NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) Overview and Trends (1)

Outline and characteristics of comprehensive evaluation systems for major global NCAPs



 The New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) is implemented in the U.S. (US NCAP, IIHS), Europe (Euro NCAP), Japan (JNCAP), Australia (ANCAP), Korea (KNCAP), China (CNCAP), South America (Latin NCAP), and the ASEAN region (ASEAN NCAP). Because there are differences in impact test modes, speeds, and mannequin settings in each program, the number of vehicles that automakers must test for all NCAPs is rapidly increasing.

 Additionally, most automobiles today receive the highest NCAP rating, making differentiation among these vehicles more unclear, which was the purpose of providing information to consumers. To combat this, each NCAP has actively introduced new items, with Euro NCAP aggressively leading the pack. The status of each NCAP is listed in the chart below (items in red are recent changes).

Area/Country Program Frontal Collision Side Collision Rear Collision
Full-lap collision Offset collision MPDB collision * MDB collision * Pole collision Far Side collision
U.S. US NCAP 56km/h -   62km/h 32km/h   -
IIHS** - 64km/h   50km/h -   16km/h
Europe Euro NCAP 50km/h 64km/h → 50km/h x2 60km/h 32km/h ← Sled 24.5km/h
Japan JNCAP 55km/h 64km/h   55km/h -   20km/h
Australia ANCAP 50km/h 64km/h → 50km/h x2 60km/h 29km/h ← Sled 24.5km/h
Korea KNCAP 56km/h 64km/h   55km/h 32km/h   16km/h
China CNCAP 50km/h 64km/h   50km/h -   20km/h
Latin America Latin NCAP - 64km/h   50km/h 29km/h   -
ASEAN ASEAN NCAP - 64km/h   50km/h -   -

* MPDB (Moving Progressive Deformable Barrier) collision, MDB (Moving Deformable Barrier) collision
** In the U.S., safety assessments are conducted by the US NCAP as well as the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety American Road Safety Association). The IIHS implements two types of offset collisions, one at an offset of 40% and the other at an offset of 25%.
Source: Created from test evaluation criteria for both NCAP and IIHS


 This will be Part 1 of a series of reports covering NCAP and will provide commentary on the characteristics of each NCAP, their issues, and future trends as seen in Euro NCAP’s Roadmap 2025. Part 2 will provide details on NCAP testing methods, including new items, and will also compare each NCAP.


Related reports:
2020 AV/ADAS Safety Standards & Regulations Roundup(May 2020)
NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) Overview and Trends (December 2017)



  Currently, the US NCAP’s collision safety assessment specializes in adult passengers. As for child passengers, US NCAP has for a long period of time been testing using actual vehicles with child-sized mannequins and child seats in impact assessment. On the subject of side collisions, a collaborative study with the private sector on an appropriate sled testing method was in progress, but no specific implementation plan has been produced, and only the ease of use of child seats has been evaluated. Furthermore, the introduction of rear-seat passengers, the elderly, and pedestrian protection into NCAP are issues to be considered, but so far, no policies have been determined.

  The rating calculation method calculates the probability of injury/rollover from the measured values in the collision test and the relative risk score, and finally calculates a comprehensive vehicle safety score (VSS), and publishes the evaluation results by level up to 5 stars which is the overall rating of the car. As for advanced technology, at present only the status of equipped systems that meet prescribed standards are published. Recently added to the list of recommended equipment are rear view camera systems (2013) and emergency automatic braking (2018 MY (model year)). Electronic Stability Control (ESC) (2014 MY), however, has been removed from the list.

US NCAPの総合評価体系
US NCAP Comprehensive Evaluation System
Note) D/P seats: D refers to the Driver and P refers to the Passenger

(Source: Created based on US NCAP and other materials)

  Currently with US NCAP, most vehicles receive a 5-star rating, making it difficult to differentiate among vehicles. The NHTSA has proposed revisions to NCAP in both 2013 and 2015 and solicited public comments. Suggested revisions included the introduction of a frontal oblique offset test (which formed the basis of the moving progressive deformable barrier (MPDB)); introduction of the THOR-50M mannequin into front collision programs (frontal oblique D/P seats and full overlap D seat); rear passenger evaluation (5F hybrid III) in full overlap frontal collision; use of WorldSID-50M mannequin in side impact program;  new injury standards with the implementation of a new mannequin (brain injury due to the rotating parts of the brain: brain injury criteria (BRIC)); collision avoidance rating; and pedestrian protection performance evaluation. Many changes were proposed, but technically speaking, the validity and the suitability of BRIC posed major issues.

  Since the start of the Trump administration, trends toward improving safety have been completely halted, with the director of the NHTSA not even being designated, and no new activity has been seen. However, a hearing was held regarding updates and upgrades to NCAP for the target year of 2020. Discussions included the reporting method and contents of the evaluation results, the necessity and display method of accident avoidance technology information that forms the basis of autonomous driving, and whether advanced mannequins should be regulated before use in NCAP for collision safety testing. Moreover, there were discussions regarding new testing methods, rear passenger protection, and seatbelt reminders.


Euro NCAP (Europe)

  Unlike the US NCAP, which focuses on the protection of adult passengers, Euro NCAP, which started in 2009, evaluates child passenger protection, pedestrian protection (which in recent years also includes bicycle riders as vulnerable road users), and Safety Assist. Euro NCAP also actively evaluates safety support systems. The most prominent characteristic of Euro NCAP is that the program and evaluation contents are updated annually.

Euro NCAPの総合評価体系
Euro NCAP comprehensive evaluation system
Note) D/P seats: D refers to the Driver and P refers to the Passenger, Fr/Rr seats: Fr refers to Front seats, Rr refers to Rear seats

(Source: Created based on Euro NCAP and other materials)


Automatic brake with pedestrian detection
(Source: Euro NCAP)

  The chart above represents the 2020 evaluation system, with full-overlap frontal collision newly added. Additionally, from 2020 rear collision evaluation for rear seats will be added, as well as the world's first introduction of pedestrian protection automatic braking. Vehicle-to-vehicle autonomous emergency braking (AEB) (low speed, medium to high speed) and lane support system (LSS) evaluation will also be added, Flex-PLI (Flexible Pedestrian Legform Impactor) will be introduced for pedestrian protection evaluation, and an MPDB head-on collision with the advanced mannequin THOR will be introduced instead of the 40% offset head-on collision. Euro NCAP has evolved significantly, such as in changing child mannequins (Q1.5, Q3 → Q6, Q10), adopting WorldSID for side impact programs, and starting evaluation of automatic brakes with pedestrian detection functions. Many additional changes are planned in the future, with the next additions, changes, and shifts in evaluation points being implemented in 2022. Details of those plans are published as Euro NCAP Roadmap 2025 (see later section).



Side impact test using a moving deformable barrier (MDB) set up to simulate an SUV
(Source: IIHS)

 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began publishing ratings based on the results of offset collision tests in 1994 MY, but since then, various changes and additions have been made based on the situation of market accidents. For example, the IIHS has actively added a side impact test using MDBs that mimic SUVs, which pose a greater danger, in a side collision. The MDB used by IIHS is heavier and taller than other NCAPs.

  IIHS, in addition to five types of collision safety assessments, that is, three types of frontal offset impacts (40% driver side overlap, 15% right side and left side overlap), side MDB impact, and rear impact, plus roof strength, in 2013, began evaluating vehicle-to-vehicle automatic braking and pedestrian protection automatic braking for collision avoidance system ratings. Ratings have also been changed to Superior, Advanced, and Basic, replacing the four previous levels ranging from Good to Poor.

IIHS has also added headlight performance in corners to help promote movable headlights. Regarding collision safety performance, the IIHS evaluation is unique, focusing not only on the injury value of the mannequins but also on the vehicle structure and the restraint/behavior of the mannequin. The small overlap test started by IIHS in 2012 had not previously been conducted by any other country or organization, but particularly in the U.S., there are an increasing number of passenger injuries in small overlap collisions where passengers were wearing seatbelts and the vehicle was equipped with airbags, making it essential for automakers to achieve high ratings on this test.

  Unlike other NCAPs, IIHS does not provide a comprehensive rating for vehicles, but instead, it ranks automobiles with favorable results in each evaluation, as Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus, to encourage improvements. Top Safety Pick Plus certification requirements include, in addition to Good ratings for 40% front offset deformable barrier (ODB), side MDB, rear collision protection, roof strength and 25% front ODB assessments, a collision avoidance system rating of Basic or above.

IIHS evaluation system

(Source: Created based on IIHS and other materials)


JNCAP (Japan)

  JNCAP conducts assessments of collision safety performance, preventive safety performance, and child seats, and it evaluates automatic accident reporting systems. In the collision safety performance assessments, in addition to four types of collision tests, full frontal overlap, frontal offset, MDB side, and rear, pedestrian protection is also evaluated, and vehicles with seatbelt reminders are given additional points.

JNCAP’s collision safety performance assessment

(Source: Created based on JNCAP and other materials)

  JNCAP includes various driving assistance systems as part of its preventive safety performance assessment and in 2014, added damage mitigation brakes (vehicle to vehicle and daytime & nighttime vehicle to pedestrian), lane departure suppression and warning devices, and rearview information. Beginning in 2015, JNCAP began evaluating devices providing visual information around the vehicle, and in 2016 it started to evaluate automatic braking systems with pedestrian detection features, LKA (lane keep assist), and nighttime pedestrian warnings. Since FY 2018, it has been implementing evaluations for high-performance headlights and an acceleration suppression device for pedal application error. The preventive safety performance assessment is scored using the method shown in the table below.

JNCAP preventive safety performance assessment

(Source: Created based on JNCAP and other materials)


NCAP in other regions

  Among ANCAP (Australia), Latin NCAP (South America), KNCAP (Korea), CNCAP (China), and ASEAN NCAP, ANCAP is the oldest one to launch, and even today still actively matches the latest trends set by Euro NCAP. Other NCAPs launched as automobiles became more popular to prove vehicles produced in those regions are not lagging in technology, and are often supported by Euro NCAP, thus featuring Euro NCAP content from one generation before. These NCAPs plan for changes following the changes in Euro NCAP.


Problems with NCAP

  Due to the increase in the number of NCAPs around the world and the different contents of each, the number of collision tests that must be carried out in order to make a new vehicle developed by an automaker compatible with all NCAPs becomes extremely large. Apart from the crash tests required by law, the number of NCAP evaluation tests aimed at adult passenger protection alone reaches nearly 30 cars per model. In the case of a full redesign, it is practically impossible to perform this number of crash tests on prototype vehicles, and automakers are forced to set testing conditions to cover as many NCAPs as possible in a single test. As a result, although automakers are hoping to standardize the conditions for each NCAP, they have not made significant progress.

  However, because each OEM has placed heavy emphasis on NCAP, most vehicles receive the highest scores, making the goals of NCAP less important. To combat this and to differentiate vehicles, there are actions to change evaluation contents. For example, Euro NCAP, as seen in its Roadmap 2025, is planning to add a multitude of changes, indicating it is in competition with automakers. Additionally, implementing many changes in Euro NCAP has resulted in other NCAPs from countries that are not considered advanced automobile nations and have a strong tendency to follow Euro NCAP making changes of their own, which hinders the standardization that is desired by OEMs.


Latest NCAP trends - Euro NCAP "Roadmap2025"

  The addition of advanced safety technology evaluation is one of the latest trends in various NCAPs. With the completion of global mandatory electronic stability control (ESC), new technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) have received more attention. Forward collision warning (FCW), Lane support system (LSS), and pedestrian protection automatic braking (front and rear) have also been added. These technologies are also foundational technologies for autonomous driving and will continue to attract attention for a while.

  In terms of collision safety, it is expected that NHTSA's research on oblique offset MDB will evolve into moving progressive deformable barrier (MPDB) and will be adopted worldwide along with the advanced mannequin THOR. Far side collision evaluation has also started (this is done also to cultivate new demand for airbags). However, in the U.S., which has been at the forefront of safety testing, new activities have stopped because of President Trump's reluctance, and there is much focus on the results of the presidential election in 2020, which will either maintain the current status quo or reinvigorate activities.


Euro NCAP "Roadmap2025"

  Among the NCAPs, Euro NCAP is currently the most active in adopting new items, and its implementation plan has been announced in its roadmaps. The latest version is Roadmap 2025, with items and schedule shown in the figure below.

Roadmap2025 Timeline
Roadmap2025 Timeline

(Source: Euro NCAP)

  Since 2020, Euro NCAP has adopted the AEB test for bicycle riders, the far side test for side impacts, and the MPDB offset frontal impact instead of the offset frontal impact, but many other changes are also being considered.

  The main contents of Roadmap 2025 are driver monitoring, AEB VRU (vulnerable road user) pedestrian back-over, AEB junction & crossing, AEB head-on, automatic emergency steering, V2X, whiplash/rear-end crash protection (implemented), a revised subsystem for pedestrian & cyclist, rescue, extrication and safety (implemented), and child presence detection.

Driver Monitoring (2020 target)

  It is said that more than 90% of accidents are caused by human error, with most resulting from distraction, which including inebriation and drowsiness. Additionally, sudden illnesses among elderly drivers also contributes to this statistic. Therefore, additional points are given to systems that detect such conditions in the driver, sound an alarm, and take appropriate measures.

AEB (automatic emergency braking, 2022 target)

  There are the following three items for AEB (automatic emergency braking):
1) Automatic braking that engages when reversing (Back-Over)
2) Brakes that prevent collisions with automobiles, pedestrians, or motorcycles (bicycles) when crossing or turning at intersections (junction & crossing)
3) An operation that combines steering and braking to prevent offset collisions with oncoming vehicles (head-on)
  These are targeted for implementation in 2022 along with AES (Automatic Emergency Steering) for collision prevention/damage reduction evaluation.

V2X (2024 target)

  The possibility of adding V2X (vehicle to everything), which is 5G communication with cell phones and V2V (vehicle to vehicle communication), is being considered.

Emergency Steering Functions (ESF)

  Euro NCAP is considering steering support technology for staying in the lane as a first step (around 2020). The timing of a second step depends on how much is legally permitted in the future, but it will not occur before 2022.

Revised Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety (2022 target)

  As an improvement, the current upper and lower leg forms will be replaced with impactors that take the mass of the upper body into consideration.

Child Presence Detection (2022 target)

  There are many accidents caused by leaving children behind in an automobile, and Euro NCAP is requesting that automakers take measures to prevent this.

  Additionally, Euro NCAP is showing interest in the following fields in relation to autonomous driving, which has received increased attention in recent years.

  • Parking
  • City driving
  • Inter-Urban driving
  • Traffic Jam
  • Highway driving

NCAP, IIHS, NHTSA, Roadmap2025, USA, EU, Japan, China, Australia, South Korea, China, South America, ASEAN, Safety, ADAS, Brake, AEB, Seat, Seatbelt, Headlamp, Lane Keeping, Driver Monitoring System, Camera, Sensor, V2X

<Automobile Industry Portal MarkLines>