Project: New Car Assessment Programme

Reference: S091D/VF

Last update: 27/08/2003 12:53:02


This project will make freely available as consumer information, the results of crash tests to test procedures based on the latest research so as to:

* encourage consumers to buy safer cars;
* encourage manufacturers to produce them; and
* persuade other countries that resisting improved safety standards will not protect their industry.


The project was initiated in 1996 and initially developed a test protocol to assess the comparative crashworthiness of cars based upon non-statutory European test procedures for frontal, side and pedestrian impacts. The test programme involved purchasing new cars, crash testing and publishing the results in vehicle groups. The first group to be tested was super-minis and these results were published in January 1997. Since then eleven further groups of vehicles have been tested with the most recent tests being family cars.

Since starting the programme, the UK has been joined by the Swedish, Dutch, French and German Governments, the European Commission, FIA, European consumer and motoring organisations. This collaborative approach has allowed over ninety different popular car models to be tested and the results published.

Reports take the form of consumer information publications dealing separately with each group of vehicles tested. These handouts are distributed at the press launch of the crashed vehicles and detailed results are widely publicised in the media.

The timing of completed phases is as follows:
* Phase 1 Superminis - January 1997
* Phase 2 Large family cars - July 1997
* Phase 3 Small family cars - May 1998
* Phase 4 Luxury cars - September 1998
* Phase 5 Small family cars - January 1999
* Phase 6 People carriers - June 1999
* Phase 7a Superminis - February 2000
* Phase 7a plus Updates, pole tests and gap filling models - March 2000
* Phase 7b Superminis and City cars - September 2000
* Phase 8 Small MPVs - March 2001
* Phase 9a Family Cars - June 2001
* Phase 9b Family and Additional Cars - November 2001

This project is now complete, but as this work is ongoing, the continuity will be maintained under a new project S0048/VC EuroNCAP Testing, for a further 4 years. Results and updates can also be obtained via the EuroNCAP website;


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £3,321,000.00

Actual start date: 01 April 1995

Actual completion date: 31 January 2002


PR/SE/301/01. New Car Assessment Programme
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 01/12/2001
Source: Contact
More information:

Summary of results

  1. The NCAP was so successful that it evolved into the EuroNCAP programme and now has wide support from other European countries, the European Commission, European consumers groups and international motoring organisations. After some initial fears, most manufacturers are now more positive about EuroNCAP and the industry has sponsored vehicle tests and is now contributing to the development of the programme.

    The following areas of improvements in vehicle safety have been observed since the beginning of the EuroNCAP programme:

    * structural integrity of the passenger compartment;
    * Development of restraints;
    * Reduction in steering wheel movement which reduces the risk of chest and head injuries;
    * Virtually complete absence of footwell intrusion;
    * Reduction in pedal intrusion;
    * Redesign of knee impact area; and
    * Side impact testing results have improved but has also demonstrated problems with airbag deployment and increased dummy loading.

    From the conception of NCAP it was always hoped that the programme would accelerate safety improvements and it is now clear this has been the case.