Euro NCAP reveals its final safety ratings of 2021, covering the range from the best to the worst that the car industry has to offer across vehicle categories. Among 11 new models tested, seven achieved a top five-star rating, including the BMW iX, the Genesis’ G70 and GV70, the Mercedes-EQ EQS, the Nissan Qashqai, the Škoda Fabia and the Volkswagen Caddy. The electric FIAT 500e and MG’s Marvel R also did well and earned 4 stars each. However, the year ends on a downer as Dacia Spring and Renault’s facelifted electric ZOE qualified for only one star and zero stars respectively, performing even worse than expected.
The 5-star winners in this batch range from affordable supermini and small MPV to high-end executive electric cars. Despite having different powertrains and price tickets, all five-star cars performed very well overall in terms of crash protection and crash avoidance. There are stand-out performances from the new Nissan Qashqai in the area of safety assist and the Mercedes-EQS for adult and child occupant protection. FIAT’s electric supermini, the 500e, and the all-new MG Marvel R, also both put in strong performances and achieved commendable four-star ratings.
As consumers are nudged from all sides to switch to battery electric cars, it is no surprise that some car manufactures are launching more affordable products on the market that can appeal to a wider audience. Renault has been amongst the first to successfully capture the market with the popular ZOE launched in 2013. The “new” ZOE, a facelift introduced in 2020, received several battery improvements but no added safety. On the contrary, the seat-mounted side airbag which previously protected head and thorax has been replaced by a less effective thorax-only airbag, representing a degradation in occupant protection. The new ZOE offers poor protection in crashes overall, poor vulnerable road user protection and lacks meaningful crash avoidance technology, disqualifying it for any stars.
Unfortunately, things do not fare much better for Renault’s no-frills sub-brand Dacia. The full electric Spring, marketed as a brand new vehicle, is heavily based on the Chinese-made Renault City K-ZE, itself a derivative of the troublesome Renault Kwid, sold in India and Brazil for several years. Dacia has staunch supporters across Europe: car buyers who appreciate the low entry prices and steer clear of “useless features” in their car. However, with the Spring, the “masters of frugal engineering” have launched a product that goes beyond no-frills. Its performance in crash tests is downright problematic, with a high risk of life-threatening injuries for driver chest and rear passenger head in frontal crash tests and marginal chest protection in side impact. The mediocre crash performance and poor crash avoidance technology results in one star rating for Dacia Spring.
Michiel van Ratingen comments:
Rikard Fredriksson, Vehicle Safety Advisor from TRAFIKVERKET in Sweden says:
Also in this release, Euro NCAP verified five new hybrid and electric variants of cars rated in earlier years. The Audi A6 PHEV, the Range Rover Evoque PHEV, the MAZDA 2 Hybrid share the 5 star ratings of 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. The Mercedes-EQ EQB is covered under the GLB’s 2019 five-star rating and Nissan’s all-new Townstar, twin to the Renault Kangoo, shares that car’s four-star rating from earlier this year.
In a statement reacting to the findings a spokesperson on behalf of Renault said:
- Renault takes note of the results published by EuroNCAP following specific tests on ZOE E-TECH Electric according to its new protocol implemented in 2020.
- First of all, Renault reaffirms that ZOE E-TECH Electric is a safe vehicle, which complies with all regulatory safety standards. These standards are constantly evolving and are becoming more stringent in all domains, especially in safety. Renault therefore continually improves its offer in order to comply with the regulations applicable where its vehicles are sold.
- ZOE was launched in 2013 and received 5 stars with EuroNCAP protocol at that time. The EuroNCAP protocol has since 2013 undergone 5 changes. With the same equipment, a model can lose up to 2 stars in each protocol change.
- The evolution of the current Zoe was decided in 2017 adapting the passive safety equipment to real accidentology and updating the car with state of the art ADAS equipments such as Advanced Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Departure Alert and Lane Keeping Assist, using a radar and a camera