2011's Best in Class for SafetyLast year, Euro NCAP published the results for 53 new car models available on the European market, among which were the first commercially available Electric Vehicles. A total of eleven cars achieved four star rating while Euro NCAP’s poorest result was achieved by Dacia Duster with three stars. To be selected the safest cars of their categories, the said vehicles should have achieved a five star rating and showed good scores in each of Euro NCAP’s four areas of assessment.
The top achievers per category are:
• Small off-road 4x4 category: Audi Q3
• Supermini category: Chevrolet Aveo
• Small Family category: Ford Focus
• Small MPV category: Mercedes B Class
• Large Family category: Volvo V60
The runners-up in each category are the Chevrolet Malibu, Mercedes M Class, Toyota Yaris, Lexus CT200h, Opel Zafira Tourer, Hyundai ix20, and BMW X1. Special mention should be made of the Ford Ranger, the only pickup tested by Euro NCAP in 2011. The Ranger is the safest pickup yet tested by the organization and scored highly in all areas of assessment, most notably in pedestrian protection.
With electric cars hitting Europe's roads this year, the organization released the results of four EVs. Plug-in vehicles are exposed to the same test conditions as their gasoline counterparts, while special attention is paid to battery integrity after a crash. The Nissan LEAF was the first of its kind to achieve Euro NCAP 5-star overall rating, placing itself amongst this year’s best small family cars.
Euro NCAP rewarded several car makers for their advanced safety features not yet included in the rating scheme. The Ford Focus, offered with optional Active City Stop, Driver Alert Forward Alert and Lane Keeping Aid, made headlines as the first high volume car receiving four rewards. Top achievers Mercedes B Class and Volvo V60 also were rewarded for Collision Prevention Assist and City Safety respectively, both are Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEB).
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General says: “With Euro NCAP Advanced, we have already recognized a number of technologies offering safety benefits to consumers. The safety case for AEB systems is very strong and we are therefore strongly encouraging manufacturers to increase the availability of such systems on new cars. We are well underway to add the assessment of these systems to the overall rating and to make these systems a requirement for five stars in the future.”
In 2012, Euro NCAP introduces stricter standards by increasing the minimum score in the pedestrian assessment from 40% to 60%, reflecting the stepwise improvements introduced by automakers of the last years in this field. While a number of carmakers have already demonstrated that cars can be engineered to pass the new limit, the increased demands will challenge others to improve the safety for vulnerable road users.