Euro NCAP faqs

Some of the most frequently asked questions about Euro NCAP

Some of the most frequently asked questions about Euro NCAP

Some of the most frequently asked questions about Euro NCAP

When it comes to manufacturer involvement in the programme, each is told of EuroNCAP's choice of car, variant and options.

EuroNCAP prefers to acquire vehicles annonymously, but if this is not possible they are selected randomly.

Manufacturers are invited to witness the tests and have an opportunity to say whether they are happy with the way the tests are run.  Manufacturers receive a copy of the test results and may comment on any anomolies compared with their own data.

Which of the cars tested is the safest?

Since 2009 a car’s star rating reflects overall safety - it covers adult and child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and additional safety technologies.  Cars with a five stars offer the highest level of safety.

Under the previous system, the headline star rating only covers adult occupant protection.

Are large cars safer than small cars?

In a frontal crash between two cars, occupants in the heavier car or the one with higher structures will tend to fare better.

The influence of mass cannot be simulated in a barrier test and Euro NCAP recommends comparison only between cars which are of a similar mass (+/- 150kg) and in the same category.

Can results be compared between groups?

Accurate comparisons can only be made between cars in the same group. The frontal test reflects a crash between two similar cars.

What does a star with a strike-through indicate?

In the old method of rating, the final star was struck through if there was a serious risk of life threatening injury in at least one vulnerable body region. In frontal impact, these were the head and the chest, and in side impact, they were the head, the chest, the abdomen and the pelvis.

Does the fact that cars need to pass European safety standards automatically make them safe?

Legislation sets minimum standards for sale in Europe.

Euro NCAP’s tests are more severe, and can highlight the differences between cars' safety. A five star car far exceeds the minimum legal requirement.

How does EuroNCAP choose which cars to test?

Euro NCAP and its members try to test those vehicles which will sell in the greatest numbers.

Euro NCAP’s members nominate cars for testing that may be important to the whole European market or may be particularly relevant to the member’s home country. Euro NCAP tries to ensure that most important new models are included in the programme.

Cars can also be sponsored by the vehicle manufacturers. Some sponsor most of their models, others very few.

Who funds the crash tests?

Each member of Euro NCAP pays to have at least one car model tested each year.

Car manufacturers can also request that their car is tested in which case they pay for the testing but have no control over the publishing of the results.

Euro NCAP ensures that the cars are built to normal production standards.


Why are some cars tested with certain safety features and others not?

Euro NCAP tests cars with those safety features which are fitted as standard in the great majority of sales.

Requirements have varied over the years

  • In 2009, a safety item must be standard in 85% of European sales, and must be optional on all variants in a model rang
  • In 2010, the requirement was 90% of sales
  • In 2011, 95%
  • From 2012, Euro NCAP will only be testing cars with equipment which is fitted as standard in all European sales.

Manufacturers may fund additional tests to demonstrate the effectiveness of items of safety equipment but star ratings are based on the ‘base’ vehicle and no rating is given to the better equipped car.

Why doesn't EuroNCAP test every variant of a model - safety equipment can vary?

It's impossible for Euro NCAP to test every single variant in a model range so it aims to test the biggest-selling variant of the manufacturer's product.

Strictly speaking, the EuroNCAP rating applies only to the variant tested and equipped with the safety equipment fitted to the test vehicle. EuroNCAP does however ensure that the same safety equipment is available as an option on all variants in the model range.

Does the rating also apply to the variant models?

EuroNCAP's rating only applies to the variant tested with the safety equipment fitted in the test.

Euro NCAP does allow manufacturers to use the star rating in generic advertising of a car model but doesn't allow it to be used to advertise particular variants that they have not tested, such as estate variants of cars originally tested as saloons.

Where are the crash tests performed?

Euro NCAP tests are performed at approved laboratories around Europe including:

  • France - UTAC in Montlhery
  • Germany - ADAC in Munich and BASt in Bergisch Gladbach
  • Netherlands - TNO in Helmond)
  • Spain - IDIADA in Tarragona
  • Italy - CSI in Milano, and
  • UK - Thatcham

Why not carry out a wider range of tests?

It is the duty of manufacturers to design and test cars to meet the full range of accidents. The Euro NCAP tests cover an important range of accidents. A well-designed car will perform well in the Euro NCAP tests, and one that does badly is less likely to provide adequate protection in a real life crash.

Why such a high front impact test speed?

By carrying out frontal impact tests at 64km/h (about 40 mph) EuroNCAP simulates a car impacting a similar sized car where both cars are travelling at the same speed of 55 km/h. This addresses a high proportion of fatal and severe injury accidents.

Why isn't the test speed higher given that driving speed limits are higher?

Carrying out frontal impacts at 64km/h covers a large proportion of serious and fatal accidents. Even if the maximum speed limit is 70mph, few accidents occur at this speed and where they do, it is beyond current engineering capability to protect the car's occupants.

Is good frontal impact performance detrimental to pedestrians?

No. The strength of the structure to give good frontal impact protection does not need to be on the outside of the car body. An effective design for bonnet structure with the position of hard structures kept underneath gives good pedestrian performance.
The two are not incompatible or mutually exclusive.

Will manufacturers not just design their cars to pass Euro NCAP tests?

No. Vehicle manufacturers have to design and test their cars to meet many more safety issues than are tested in the Euro NCAP tests. Some use Euro NCAP procedures as in-house targets/standards for those aspects addressed by EuroNCAP.

What is the vehicle manufacturers' view?

If such tests are to be carried out it should be in an objective way by an independent expert organisation.

There is a general acceptance that Euro NCAP has been responsible for improving overall safety standards.

Euro NCAP has an ongoing and regular dialogue with the motor industry, discussing technical issues.

Why have manufacturers changed their view of EuroNCAP?

Initially, car manufacturers were against the EuroNCAP programme but they saw that it received a lot of publicity and was technically robust.

Cars that received good ratings improved their sales and those that did badly lost sales.

The tests, developed for legislation and the best available, gained credibility with safety engineers within the car manufacturers,  who saw the advantages of an independent assessment that would guide car safety design in the correct direction.