ANCAP is planning to raise the bar for its coveted five-star rating, the highest safety ranking, to include a new generation of pre-crash safety systems.
The judging standard for Australia's safest cars is about to change.
The Australian New-Car Assessment Program is planning to raise the bar for its coveted five-star rating, the highest safety ranking, to include a new generation of pre-crash safety systems. In the past its ratings have been based primarily on laboratory crash tests but, with more and more cars qualifying for a five-star tick, a change is coming.
"We have a futures roadmap. We have meetings in New Zealand this week and we're looking at raising the bar," says the ANCAP business manager, Nick Clarke. Crucially, Clarke says the five-star standard will be raised from the current level, where ESP stability control is the main essential for the top score, to include advanced systems currently being introduced by safety pioneers including Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.
"There is collision avoidance radar, lane departure warning, and even night vision systems. You'll see more and more of those features coming into the rating scale. "Some of them will become mandatory for a five-star rating."
But Clarke says the changes will not come until the start of 2011. "We don't want all Subaru cars, for example, to become four star cars overnight from five stars," he says.
"We'll probably make the announcement in the next quarter, and have progressive introduction from next year." While Clarke says ANCAP is improving its procedures, he does not see it copying the European NCAP system of listing its top five performers, topped for 2009 by the Volkswagen Golf.
"We've had a bit of a look at it, but only to a lukewarm response," he says. "We'll have a talk about it this year but I don't think so. We also tend to steer clear of the raw scores and go towards the star ratings."
He says he understands the EuroNCAP promotion of a 'top five' but says there are different reasons for the approach. "I think it's a useful thing for them. Their storing protocol is slightly different to us, and they are reaching a lot more countries, so they are trying to establish some sort of benchmark."