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Car manufacturers face tough challenge in meeting stringent new crash test criteria


A car crashing into a barrier.  Stock image.

A car crashing into a barrier. Stock image.

A car crashing into a barrier. Stock image.

STRINGENT new tests will make cars safer than they have ever been when introduced later this year.

The ‘game-changing’ upgrades to the Euro NCAP testing process – described as the most comprehensive in a decade - could impact on the safety ratings and price of cars sold here.

Automakers place heavy emphasis on vehicles they sell with 5-star Euro NCAP ratings, for example. It helps to instil consumer confidence.

One new test looks particularly difficult: points will be deducted from large SUV ratings if their structures are found to be too ‘stiff’ in crashes with smaller, more vulnerable, cars. The experts say: “This levels the playing field for all vehicle sizes, which is a win-win for road safety.”

Meeting new Autonomous Emergency Braking standards to prevent reversing accidents will also pose a challenge.

Other major upgrades of the testing procedure will include new side-impact tests and closer assessment of driver monitoring systems.

A new ‘THOR’ mid-sized dummy, claimed to more closely represent the human body and capable of recording abdominal injuries, will be used to more comprehensively gauge the impact of crashes on passengers.

Euro NCAP says the new test standard in that area will be especially tough to meet due to the use of more sophisticated dummies. An expert analysis of side-impact accidents points out: “In these impact scenarios, occupants can be knocked around dramatically – not only into one another but also into the vehicle structures.”

It will also be the first time there will be two moving elements to the head-on collision - the test vehicle and a barrier.

Cars launched this year will undergo the new tests later in 2020 to address “long-standing needs in occupant protection, to improve post-crash protection and to promote the latest advanced driver assistance technology”.

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Meeting the new criteria will come as a big challenge, not to mention extra cost, at a time of crisis in the automotive sector due to the coronavirus epidemic.

But it is not all stick; there are some carrots. There will be rewards for carmakers who make safety information easily available to first responders in the event of an accident.

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