Matthew Avery, Euro NCAP board member and chief research and strategy officer at Thatcham, told Autocar: “Every few years, Euro NCAP raises the bar by introducing new tests which either exploit new technologies or lift the hurdle to make manufacturers do better. If everyone is five-star, we need to lift the barrier.”
As a result of these alterations, he explained: “When we first tested the Zoe, it did reasonably well and had all the elements you needed back then to get a reasonable score. But if you’ve still got the same design 10 years later, you aren’t going to score as well.”
He said that the inclusion of the previous Zoe’s side-mounted airbag might have pushed the current model’s rating up to one star, but “it certainly wouldn’t be any better”, as “we would expect to see the general poor performance and red areas on the dummy”. He also clarified that the previous model’s five-star verdict wouldn’t necessarily still apply, given changes to the testing process.
The Euro NCAP crash test process isn’t mandatory so is either undergone by cars entered voluntarily by their manufacturers or by cars purchased by the testing body itself.
In a statement sent to Autocar, Renault said: “Above all, [the] Renault Zoe E-Tech Electric is a safe vehicle and complies with all regulatory safety standards. These standards are constantly evolving and are becoming more stringent in terms of both safety and consumption (etc.). As such, Renault continually improves its vehicles in order to comply with the regulations in all the markets where they are sold.”
Renault also pointed out that the Zoe “has been launched with several standard elements according to the equipment level to improve the safety of occupants and other road users (Active Safety): front LED headlamps, overspeed prevention, advanced emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure alert, lane-keeping assist, traffic-signs recognition, automatic high/low-beam switching of the lights [and] blindspot warning.”
The new Dacia Spring EV, Europe’s cheapest full-sized electric car, which is set to go on sale in the UK in 2022, was awarded its one-star verdict on the basis that “its performance in crash tests is downright problematic,” according to Euro NCAP.