RAC Cars News


Euro NCAP To Overhaul Its Star Ratings System

By raccars Published

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Brussels based crash testing agency, Euro NCAP, is planning a revamp of the way it awards safety points to new cars, to help customers more easily identify the better performing models. A new, two tier star ratings system will be implemented, to clearly show which cars fulfil basic safety requirements and which offer more comprehensive safety equipment.

Four out of five new cars tested currently achieve a five star rating, which makes the star rating system almost redundant. The agency hopes its new system will change the way car buyers look at safety equipment and help them to recognise the value of modern features, such as autonomous braking or lane departure warning. Secretary General of Euro NCAP, Dr Michiel van Ratingen, wants to make car buyers look further than seatbelts and airbags, to more sophisticated safety features.

The new system will come into place in January 2016. From then, only cars featuring the most advanced safety kit, including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and pedestrian detection, will achieve a maximum five star rating. Van Ratingen hopes this will change motorists' perceptions of what constitutes adequate safety equipment.

If car manufacturers want to maintain their five star across the entire model range, they will have to fit the most up to date crash avoidance technology to every model. This will, no doubt, have a knock on effect upon car prices but Euro NCAP believes that certain manufacturers will be determined to retain their five star scores - enough to follow through with fitting the necessary equipment as standard.

According to insurance specialist, Thatcham, a side effect of the two tier system is that those cars which do achieve the stellar maximum score are likely to be subject to reduced insurance premiums. Under the current system, Euro NCAP safety ratings are mostly irrelevant when it comes to insurance premiums. As the new ratings will make it clear which cars have a certain level of equipment, insurance providers' systems will easily be able to recognise and reward the appropriate vehicles.

None of the major manufacturers has yet commented upon the proposed new ratings system. Euro NCAP believes that the two tier format will see around 70% of new cars achieve only three stars in their more basic forms. The agency is hoping that having safety levels so clearly highlighted will encourage car buyers to spend more money to buy the models which include what it considers to be the most important safety features.

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