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Unsafe cars to be phased out by 2020, according to NCAP

By raccars Published

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Auto safety body World NCAP has announced a scheme to remove unsafe cars from the road by 2020.

World NCAP is a global car safety body dedicated to crash testing vehicles. It applies minimum safety standards for a crash at 35mph as set by the United Nations in regulation 924, essentially meaning at least one airbag and a basic built in safety structure. While Euro or World NCAP crash testing is not mandatory, manufacturers almost universally comply with NCAP standards for commercial viability.

NCAP pushing for higher safety standards

These days automotive safety equipment is so sophisticated that unprecedented numbers of cars are achieving the maximum five star crash safety rating, and NCAP is regularly obliged to update its test procedures to acknowledge new safety technology. Nonetheless, a small but significant number of new cars are released every year which fail to achieve even the minimum crash safety standards.

This 20 per cent of cars includes models made by Datsun, Hyundai, Tata and even Ford, all of whom have been criticised by NCAP for providing insufficient protection in the event of a crash. Car manufacturers have defended themselves by claiming that there is a small percentage of consumers who are prepared to sacrifice the latest safety equipment and would rather pay less for a new car. However NCAP argues that adding at least the basic equipment would not be financially prohibitive for manufacturers and could have huge safety ramifications for buyers, with airbags available from as little as $50 (£30).

World NCAP has now committed itself to eradicating those cars from the market which gain a zero star score in crash testing. The scheme will be assisted by emerging markets such as India and Brazil, which are beginning to impose stricter safety regulations upon manufacturers. NCAP believes, too, that an increasingly knowledgeable consumer base will vote with its feet and reject products which do not meet modern safety standards.

GM heavily criticised

The chief executive of General Motors, Mary Barra, recently found herself in hot water for the firm's failure to install airbags into some of its models sold in Latin America. She claimed that most of her company's models exceeded the minimum safety standards, adding that the decision not to fit airbags in certain markets was driven by economics and the need to provide affordable transportation to all regions. Latin NCAP, supported by international consumer groups, has rejected this argument and requested that GM ensure any zero star scored cars are removed from its product range.

Road Map for Safer Vehicles

Other manufacturers are to be given similar treatment as part of Global NCAP's policy 'Democratising Car Safety: Road Map for Safer Cars 2020'. The policy calls for stricter minimum standards of protection. As part of its publicity campaign, it has created the Twitter hashtag #nozerostarcars, hoping to inspire trending on the social media platform.

At one time the tendency among manufacturers was to create cheaper and cheaper entry level models such as the Datsun Go, the Tata Nano and the Chevrolet Aveo, which did effectively open up personal mobility to a far wider demographic than previously possible.

However sales volumes never matched predictions and it became clear the public preferred to spend a little more and to get more in return. Industry analysts suggests that badge snobbery rather than safety was a key factor, with socially aspirational car owners not keen to be viewed as cheap. In other words, those buying on a budget don't want it to be obvious that they are doing so.

This consumer stance would seem to support NCAP's objectives.

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