The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has moved to clear confusion over its star-rated safety system by adding a ‘date stamp’ to future ratings.
The new approach will see the 'stamp' added to ANCAP's star-rating graphics ("Tested 2014", for example), encouraging consumers to compare ‘like with like’ when shopping for a car.
Previously, consumers could be misled into thinking that a vehicle awarded a 5-Star rating 10 years ago is as safe as a vehicle achieving five stars in 2014.
In reality, ANCAP raises the safety bar each year; making it harder for carmakers to achieve a 5-star result by adding compulsory features that the Program deems important to road safety.
Results from new programs such as pedestrian impact testing are also considered in the overall result, while older vehicles with 5-star ratings may not have been subject to such tests.
An example of the progress made by carmakers in the field of safety can be seen with Volvo’s XC90 SUV.
The previous model served for 12 years in some markets, and was deservedly awarded the maximum 5-star rating by ANCAP in 2008.
Volvo’s all-new XC90 was unveiled last week, adding such safety features as ‘run-off road protection’, a smarter autonomous emergency braking system, road sign recognition and ‘queue assist’; which operates the car almost fully-autonomously in traffic jams.
In addition to active safety technology, the new XC90’s construction methods and materials make it five times stronger than the model it replaces.
Assuming the 2015 model can match its predecessor’s 5-star safety rating, ANCAP’s new date stamp will be crucial to compare the relative safety offered by each model.
ANCAP has previously ruled out moving to a 6- or 7-star (or more) safety scheme, saying it will continually raise the standards for its maximum 5-star rating as technology progresses.
More on the Program's new date stamp system can be found on ANCAP’s website (opens in new window).