By Samuel Smith
Last updated on: January 8, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Cars are now the safest they’ve ever been, but it’s taken years of investment, testing and analysis to reach this point.
Since it was created in the early 90s, ANCAP (the Australasian New Car Assessment Program) has pushed manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles, through complex and thorough independent testing. Today, the majority of manufacturers seek ANCAP ratings for their new models, with consumers viewing 5 star safety as the expected standard.
But research comes at a cost.
Last financial year, ANCAP destroyed more than 150 vehicles in the name of safety.
The average cost to produce just one safety rating is a whopping $656,914, which includes the vehicle price tag and the price of complex testing equipment and analysis.
ANCAP safety rating requirements are updated every 2 years to make sure the bar held by the independent safety authority remains in line with that of emerging safety features and technologies. Naturally, testing equipment has to be renewed to keep up.
Some of the most expensive models to test over the past six months have been the Mercedes-Benz G-Class ($1.18 million), the fully-electric Mercedes-Benz EQC ($1.03 million) and the Tesla Model X ($1.09 million).
What’s actually involved in an ANCAP test?
ANCAP tests involve a diverse range of physical crash tests, detailed assessment of safety features and performance testing of active collision avoidance functions.
Vehicles are evaluated against 4 key assessment criteria : adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, vulnerable road user protection and safety assist.
Physical crash tests
Vehicles are put through an unforgiving range of destructive crash tests which simulate front impact, side impact, run-off-road and rear-end collisions as well as pedestrian strikes.
Effects to both child and adult dummies are assessed; data is then collected and used to measure likely injuries the driver, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Physical damage to the vehicle is assessed, including analysis of restraint systems. As it stands, 8 physical crash tests are conducted on each vehicle:
- The frontal offset test
- The full-width frontal test
- The side impact test
- The far-side impact test (2 x scenarios)
- The pedestrian protection test
- The oblique pole test
- The whiplash test
Active safety tests
All vehicles are assessed for the effectiveness (and presence) of safety assist technology.
Safety assist technology assessed includes autonomous emergency braking, automatic emergency steering, lane support systems, speed assistance systems and driver monitoring systems.
What’s the deal with dummies?
ANCAP has a large range of male, female, child and adult dummies in different shapes and sizes.
Each serves a specific purpose – some are designed to provide insight into the effect of frontal impact crashes, while others are created exclusively for side-impact tests.
What may surprise you is how much they cost.
THOR (Test device for Human Occupant Restraint), introduced this year, is the most advanced dummy in ANCAP’s army. It has 99 data channels running its body, but one mission: to reflect and record human movement and limitations in frontal impact tests.
THOR’s price tag? More than $1 million.
Other members of the ANCAP entourage include the Hybrid III, which is designed to gather data from head-on crashes, and is particularly good at providing information on head and neck injuries.
Its distant cousin, the WorldSID (side impact dummy), joined the ranks in 2018 and gathers side impact data, measuring injury risk to the ribs, spine and internal organs.
What a dummy
The THOR crash test dummy costs more than:
Why it’s all worth it
Since the early 1990s, ANCAP’s complex and thorough independent testing has pushed manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles.
Today, the majority of manufacturers seek ANCAP ratings for their new models, with consumers viewing 5 star safety as the expected standard.