By on June 13, 2012

Starting in 2014, cars will require an autobrake system, such as Volvo’s CitySafety technology, to achieve a five-star rating on the NCAP crash test.

Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen told AutoExpress that he expected all new cars sold in Europe to have such a system by 2017. Van Ratingen is hoping to halve the number of deaths resulting from auto accidents by 2020. Lane departure warning systems are also expected to be evaluated in the coming years – with the hopes that the new generation of safety systems will follow in the footsteps of stability control systems and become standard across the board. Hooray.

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49 Comments on “NCAP Crash Tests Will Only Give 5-Star Scores To Vehicles With Autobrake Systems...”


  • avatar
    Marko

    I hope these systems will have an on-off switch like Volvo’s currently does, because I can think of situations where auto-braking won’t be such a great idea (i.e. parallel parking, off-roading, snow).

  • avatar

    The only auto-braking system I’d like is one that allows me to take my foot off the pedals in dense stop & go traffic and relax – allowing the car to move and stop itself.

    Because I drive a supercharger, I end up following closely alot and I wouldn’t want one of these goddamned things braking for me before I am ready to cut-right or left.

    • 0 avatar

      Volvo is half-way there: The car stops by itself, but you have to tip the throttle to get it going again. Mercedes has a system that can stop-and-go alone.

      That being said, I tried Volvos CitySafety and wrote “do not buy”, because it’s rubbish. I had reproducable false positives and the cheap laser interference systems other manufacturers put in things like the VW Up or the Fiat Panda are so unreliable experts told me “they brake when the weather is nice”. Good luck having this crap mandatory. I think I’ll become a lawyer. And rich.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    We all remember how Volvo’s auto-break system worked when that S60 crashed into the back of that flatbed, right?

    …..

    Right?

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Oi Vey, do I ever! That was 1.5 dozen egg on the face for Volvo (search for the video on YouTube, it happened in 2010).

      Maybe we should require that Siri be designed into all new cars so she can auto-text while the driver actually watches the road . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      As I recall, someone forgot to switch the unit on.

      Friend of mine at Volvo got a big promotion to take over the program responsibility after that happened.

    • 0 avatar
      quoteunquote

      The system does seem to be working pretty well in the “real world” though: http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr071911.html

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        “The study of insurance claims found that Volvo XC60 midsize SUVs outfitted with a standard collision avoidance feature called City Safety are far less likely to be involved in low-speed crashes than comparable vehicles without the system.”

        Case closed.

        What was the line behind the backlash against the ABS and ESP? That “true drivers don’t need it”?

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        They still don’t.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I can’t wait until we have an accident caused by (or made worse by) one of these systems. They are man-made and can make a mistake. The lawyers will get rich litigating over it – drivers will get a $100 trade-in coupon and lawyers will get millions.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Of course they can make a mistake. But if on average they save quite a few lives then society as a whole benefits. Even you, as you drive one handed past a school while tuning the radio and eating a big mac and shouting at your kids, even you, benefit. Amazing eh?

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        “”On average” the camry is safe” didn’t convince too many lawyers and law makers 2 years ago…

        This seems like lawyer bait. doesn’t mean it wouldn’t help. I’m sure it passes the common sense test. But law is not common sense.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I can see the Obama administration trying to adopt this, too, since the Federal government will soon be paying everyone’s health care bills under Obamacare.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    So a 2013 car that got 5 stars will suddenly rate only 4 in 2014, if it doesn’t add auto-brake?

    Fair enough in itself; but a great reminded that star-ratings are intensely subjective, and that even a two- or three-star car is probably better than almost anything from, say, 20 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      +1

      Compared to cars that I grew up with in the 1980s, just about everything on the road today this side of the Tata Nano is fast, comfortable, reliable, efficient, and fun to drive — as compared to the same-segment vehicle in the 1980s.

      I don’t remember the 1970s but having seen some of those vehicles, I assume the effect is exaggerated.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t know too much about their star ratings, but it seems to be a good idea to differentiate the star levels with clear break-downs that people actually understand, sort of like options packages. I.e., 3-stars means it has certain features plus meets a performance criteria; 4-stars means it meets all requirements of 3-stars plus additional features & performance criteria; and so on with 5-stars. Unfortunately, all I (and I suspect others) know is that more stars is better, whatever “better” means.

      I don’t have a problem with making the safety star level an optional package on the car–upgrade to a 5-star package if you want (and probably pay less for insurance) or keep it simple and opt for a cheaper car & lower star rating.

      Chasing safety is a diminishing returns problem. They can keep adding features & cost, but each additional one adds less value. There will never be a perfectly safe car, so it has to be decided what is ‘safe enough.’ Cars now are very safe, and I don’t know how much more is really needed. Maybe instead of just requiring every new device, they figure out which ones are the most cost effective and only require those.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Well-intended I suppose, but something else to break and add cost, weight and complexity.

    I’d like to have the option to delete this on any new vehicle.

    Sounds like another way to absolve people of personal responsibility for just about anything, least of all simply paying attention while commanding a multi-ton projectile.

    Total lawyer fodder, yes.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Obviously proposed by someone who doesn’t understand engineering. Essentially that is to ignore the real goal (protect driver) and force a design (use auto-break). What if a car with no auto break is actually more secure than a car with one? That’s entirely possible if the former is better in other aspects. In that case, the scoring system is broken.

    On the side note, if the goal is to protect pedestrians, they should create a separate test, instead of messing with this test.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      To me this sounds a bit like the “seat belts make you less safe because what if you crash into water or the car catches on fire and you can’t get out” argument. As in I can imagine a situation where it turns out a seat belt could actually be bad, but the odds of that happening are so low as not even begin to counter the benefits of the 99.9% of crashes where seat belts help.

      A properly designed auto-break system that isn’t randomly slamming on the breaks all the time would be immensely helpful, even if on the average it just reduced crash speeds by 20 mph. Overall I’m having a hard time imagining it being a net negative. I mean, imagine how many people wouldn’t be killed by drunk drivers if the car had the ability to sense the oncoming crash and stop. The point at which such a system would activate (when immediate full breaking is required to avoid collision) would be far later than the point an attentive driver would start hitting the breaks in a mild and controlled manner. So there’s plenty of velvet where this system would not have to intrude on the normal driving experience and still provide safety benefits. Like stability control; you usually don’t need it, but when the situation gets too extreme it kicks on.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        This is nothing like an argument about wearing seatbelts. wsn’s point is that a car with autobrake is not necessarily as safe as a different car without autobrake. Putting autobrake in a Miata might not make up the delta in overall crash safety between the Miata and an autobrake-free Lexus LS460L, for example. Giving the Lexus a star deduction for not having one feature would not create an accurate picture of the cars’ relative safety.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Well I will admit I misread his comment on that point, but they aren’t saying if a car has an auto brake system it automatically gets 5 stars. So if 4 stars will become the ‘as good as it gets with no auto brake’ designation, then I guess that Miata will get 3 stars if it is inferior even with auto brake.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        @toxicroach:

        From reading the article, I am afraid that’s not what they mean.

        Even between comparable cars, like S600 vs LS460, you will have two outcomes in dummy test:

        1) The car with auto-break caused less injury to the dummy. In that case, the safer car would have an extra star anyways due to the different injury level. Why would you need to have this policy?

        2) There is no difference in the injuries. In that case, one car has one more star than the other equally safe car.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “Obviously proposed by someone who doesn’t understand engineering.”

      No of course you’re right, it’s not like Michiel van Ratingen has a PhD in Computational and Experimental Mechanics or has spent the last 30 years designing crash safety systems or anything. He certainly sounds like a complete duffer in engineering matters.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “On the side note, if the goal is to protect pedestrians, they should create a separate test, instead of messing with this test.”

      What a test like the ‘EuroNCAP pedestrian protection test’? Good thinking, amazing nobody thought of it first!

      http://www.euroncap.com/Content-Web-Page/ed4ad09d-1d63-4b20-a2e3-39192518cf50/pedestrian-protection.aspx

    • 0 avatar

      They understand engineering all right. But the real goal of this is not safety, it’s to increase the cost of cars. Death by a 1000 cuts.

  • avatar
    dartman

    Flashback 1971…The end of the performance car is done! Pollution and safety standards have killed cars as we know them!…(thank god the second half of that statement was correct)
    Neanderthals then, Neanderthals now; technology and progress marches on, and the ignorant and uneducated as always, resist change at all costs. To name a few: seat belts; fuel injection; unleaded fuel; air bags; anti-lock brakes; r-134 refrigerant…Ad infinitum.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Cars did stink for a decade because of rushed and often poorly thought out regulations. Much fuel was wasted(and scary CO2 released!!!!) because of dropped compression ratios and added weight for now-rescinded 5 mph bridge truss bumpers. R-134 is the new Freon, slated for elimination by the misanthropes. In the mean time, we used it instead of Freon only to make chemical companies wealthier while cooling less efficiently, wasting energy. It is almost like the environment isn’t really driving such regulations. Ignorance is your superiors’ greatest resource.

      • 0 avatar
        dartman

        No one said progress was easy!
        I am absolutely certain that a better replacement for R134a will be found and used with out disrupting our desire to remain cool…Thank you for making my point and as a gesture of appreciation please allow me to direct you to: http://www.ecrater.com/p/254234/aluminum-foil-deflector-beanie-kit?gps=1

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        American muscle cars from 1974-onward sucked, but by 1987, a new Mustang 5.0 with a stick would destroy anything from the late 1960s that wasn’t a rare 426 Hemi or Shelby Mustang, while delivering superior fuel mileage and polluting way less.

        Not all regulations suck. Would anyone really want to sit in a traffic jam with a bunch of idling cars from the pre catalytic converter era? Hell no. Driving behind a classic car with no emissions controls makes me glad I never lived in an era where those things were commonplace.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        @CJinSD:

        “R-134 is the new Freon, slated for elimination by the misanthropes. In the mean time, we used it instead of Freon only to make chemical companies wealthier while cooling less efficiently, wasting energy. ”

        You are wrong.

        When retrofitted into an R-12 system R-134a does have lower cooling performance, primarily due to the condenser and compressor valving not being optimized for the thermal properties of R-134a.

        However, in an AC system that is purpose-built to use R-134a the efficiency is about dead-even with a system with equivalent capacity using R-12.

        This is an inevitable result of their fundamental thermodynamic properties, and is not really something that is up for debate.

        If you insist that it is, I challenge you to either find a legitimate source that claims otherwise, or demonstrate to me why R-12 is inherently more efficient than R-134a.

        Here’s some reading for you:

        http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/iracc/121/

        http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1155&context=iracc

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        bikegoesbaa,

        And yet R-134 was legislated into use in many a system designed for R-12 where even you can probably figure out that it was less efficient. Now R-134 has been determined by the same misanthropes that launched it to be a threat just like R-12 and in need of replacement, most likely by CO2. I wonder if they’ll think of a reason to make all the systems designed for CO2 obsolete? Can you prognosticate, or just regurgitate propaganda?

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        At no point was R-134a “legislated into” R-12 systems. Even today, it is completely legal to charge an R-12 system with R-12.

        I’m an AC/refrigeration system design engineer, so a not-insubstantial part of my livelihood is “prognosticating” on future legislation that will impact the refrigerant availability and the best technical solutions to any problems that result. I don’t claim to be good at much, but I’ve been doing this for more than a decade and have a pretty good handle on it by now.

        Do you care to share your qualifications relating to the technical aspects of vapor compression heat transfer systems?

        I ask because your claim that CO2 is the “most likely” replacement for R-134a is a good indicator that you may not know much about this subject.

        By far the most likely replacements for R-134a are HFO-1234yf for mobile applications and hydrocarbons such as R-600 and R-290 for most stationary applications. Some automakers are pursuing CO2; but it’s far from a done deal that it will be *the* replacement for R-134a in cars; much less all other applications.

        It appears that the US and Japanese automakers are 100% onboard with HFO-1234fy

        Again, I challenge you to find a credible source that contradicts me.

        CO2 is very much a niche working fluid. Most non-automotive equipment OEMs that I know of have already tested it and either abandoned it entirely or offer it in very limited special applications. Your information appears to be about 6 years out of date.

        Can you elaborate on how the R-12 phaseout was to make “chemical companies” wealthy? Again, can you provide any credible support for this claim?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m guessing Volvo wants us to forget this failed automatic braking system test.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Just what the driving environment needs. Another bureaucratic fiat telling drivers they needn’t bother knowing how to drive. The miracle car will do it for them. Look up “compensatory risk taking”.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Presence-of-Mind-Buckle-Up-And-Behave.html

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      I actually thought the story about the History of Chickens on the same page was more convincing and less full of obvious logical shortcomings

      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/How-the-Chicken-Conquered-the-World.html

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Kind of a misleading title since NCAP usually refers to US NCAP and “Euro NCAP” is referred to exactly like that. Similar to CNCAP for china

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I appreciate ABS and stability systems since they help me do what I already want to do which is to brake and corner harder without losing control of my car. Autobrake doesn’t do that. The last thing I need is for my car to decide to brake in the middle of a maneuver which requires acceleration to complete safely.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      You want stability control to be able to apply the brakes because you’re not confident you can maintain control of your car, yet you don’t want the car to brake for you because it would prevent you from using your car control skills?

  • avatar
    ixim

    It’s BRAKES, not “breaks”; meaning those things that slow/stop the car.
    Now, where was I?
    Oh, yes, another bit of auto tech becoming so cheap that unaccountable “safety expert” bureaucrats can keep busy mandating it. Well, so long as this gadget doesn’t interfere with my operting my personal motor vehicle, OK.

  • avatar
    quoteunquote

    I hope eventually these systems evolve to the point where they automatically brake not just at higher speeds (on the V40, City Safety is now active up to 31 MPH, whereas previously City Safety on the current/older XC60/S60 was only active up to 19 MPH, so it looks like things are headed that direction), but also if an oncoming car comes into your lane. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the current AEB systems only brake if someone stops in front of you traveling the same direction you are. Which is a fantastic first step and has already been proven to reduce rear-end accidents and their severity by quite a bit, but imagine how many lives could be saved if these systems could slow you down just 5-10 MPH prior to an impact with an oncoming vehicle.


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