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Next-gen ANCAP set to kick off in 2018

Safe bet: ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin detailed the new test protocols at an event in Canberra this week.

Biggest changes in Australian safety auditor’s history will start January 1, 2018

General News logo7 Dec 2017

By TIM ROBSON

THE body’s name remains the same, but the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) will, from the beginning of next year, implement the biggest raft of changes seen in the organisation since its formation in 1993.

New testing regimes, a new scoring system and a new way of marketing its ratings will all be introduced in 2018, as the organisation aligns its testing standards with those of Euro NCAP.

As well, ANCAP will now be part of the process to determine future safety protocols at a European level.

“We’re reaching the end of what’s known as the ANCAP Road Map,” said ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin at an end-of-year function in Canberra this week.

“That will cease in December, and from the 1st of January, 2018, the ANCAP Safety Rating Program will accelerate, and we’ll adopt the common test and assessment protocols with our colleagues at Euro NCAP.

“It’s an important step in our evolution, and certainly, globally. This is the first time that two new car assessment programmes have joined together to implement a common standard.”

The traditional scoring system will be abolished, with the previous best-from-37 tally replaced with the Euro NCAP model of four ‘pillars’ of safety performance.

These pillars include adult occupant protection child occupant protection pedestrian protection and safety assist system assessment.

Any car that is assessed under the new system will need to pass minimum requirements before it can be considered for the next pillar.

Testing protocols have also been ramped up, with ANCAP’s four testing sites revamped and improved, the return of the full-width frontal impact test, a 250kg increase in mass for the side impact test (from 950kg to 1300kg), a new and tougher pole impact test and the implementation of new and improved crash test dummies – including female and new child-sized versions.

Mr Goodwin suggested that the child protection protocol is one of the biggest changes to ANCAP’s brief.

“This will be the first time in Australia that we’ve looked at the vehicle’s ability to protect the younger occupants in the vehicle,” he said. “That’s a really important element.”

The new safety assist systems testing regime is also set to be comprehensive, with ANCAP planning to put robot-controlled cars through a barrage of 100 different tests at South Australia’s Tailem Bend driver training facility.

Test cars will be piloted remotely to keep car speeds consistent across the assessment, while the tests themselves will look at all driver assist elements including city, highway and so-called ‘vulnerable road user’ (VRU) autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and rear cross-traffic alert.

The vulnerable road users tests will see adult-sized, child-sized and cyclist-sized dummies sent across the front of the vehicle.

“The test scenarios that will form part of our assessments (will be) conducted at city speeds, at highway speeds, (against) stationery vehicle targets, moving targets, braking targets. In the daytime, in the night time. So this is a major investment,” said Mr Goodwin.

ANCAP will also date-stamp each new assessment with the year of the test, and will remove a car from the ratings list if it remains unchanged for six years.

“If there is no change to that vehicle, then the rating becomes a non-current rating,” said Mr Goodwin. “That vehicle is no longer rated.”

He added that car-makers could avoid this by presenting an updated car ahead of the six-year deadline.

ANCAP will also be an active member of Euro NCAP Working Groups that creates test protocols, as well as contributing data from Tailem Bend driver assistance systems assessments for incorporation into Euro NCAP data.

“When we started that process, we thought that, really, we were going to be adopting Euro NCAP’s protocols,” said Mr Goodwin. “But through this process, Euro NCAP decided that they wanted the good bits of the ANCAP assessment protocols, as well.

“And one of the benefits, the benefits, are really to have a common set of protocols means that vehicle brands only need to build and specify their cars to one standard. Hopefully, it will be the safest standard.”

A new corporate logo, a cleaner star rating graphic and a new smartphone app were also rolled out at the event, which featured several crash-tested vehicles, including a Chery J1 which scored just three from five stars.

“So, really, what does all this mean for consumers, in the future?” Mr Goodwin asked rhetorically. “What that means, hopefully, is that we’re going to get safer cars, and we’ll get safer cars on the road. If we raise the bar, the industry is going to raise the bar, as well.”

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