Automotive safety is of a bigger concern in European, American and German markets. Because of this, Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) launched the ‘Safer Choice’ awards. This was done to encourage automakers in developing countries/markets to achieve the highest levels of safety performance for cars.

The Safer Choice India Award was announced at the Delhi motor show in February. This was followed by announcing the ‘Safer Choice Africa’ Award in May.

Last November, at a conference held in Cape Town by Global NCAP and the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), the first-ever independent crash test results for cars sold in Africa were released. The crash test results from five cars tested displayed a wide range of safety performance. Scores ranged from 0 to 4 stars for adult protection. The lowest ratings displayed a high probability of life-threatening injury in a road crash.

In order to encourage manufacturers to quickly improve the safety levels of cars sold in the region, Global NCAP is now looking to bestow a prestigious accolade. Hence, the accolade of Africa’s first 5-star car through the ‘Safer Choice Africa’ Award was introduced.

Global NCAP Safer Choice requirements

Both Indian and African cars need to achieve a set list of requirements to be able to qualify for a Global NCAP Safer Choice Award. The requirements are:

  1. The vehicle must achieve a 5-star score for Adult Occupant Protection. This, in accordance with the latest version of the Global NCAP New Market Test protocol.
  2. The car must achieve at least a 4-star result in Child Occupant Protection. This, in accordance with the latest version of the Global NCAP New Market Test protocol.
  3. The model must offer Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and meet performance requirements according to United Nations Regulations UN13H, UN140 or GTR9. Where optional, ESC must be available on all the model variants, sold separately without any ‘bundling’ with other features. And as from two years onwards must be a standard fit to at least 20% of the sales volume in the country.
  4. The model must meet Pedestrian Protection requirements according to United Nations Regulations UN127 or GTR9. This must be validated on market units at a Global NCAP designated testing laboratory.
  5. Conformity with all of these requirements must be validated at a Global NCAP designated laboratory and by the provision of type approval certificates where applicable.

According to David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General, manufacturers and consumers have welcomed the ‘Safer Choice India’ Award. They are now calling the African automobile market to respond to the call for 0-star cars to be driven off Africa’s roads.

Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA, concurred that this is a unique opportunity for car manufacturers and importers in Africa. It’s an opportunity to highlight and market their commitment to vehicle safety, and road safety on the continent. Furthermore, it allows the automakers to differentiate themselves by making safer cars available to consumers.

Safer cars a better choice for new buyers

Talking about safety, the AA conducted a survey recently which polled more than 650 people. This preceded the #SaferCarsforAfrica campaign which lead to the first independent crash test assessment by Global NCAP and the AA.

Results showed that nearly 75% of prospective new car owners said their purchase decision will be influenced by whether a car has been crash-tested, and safety rated. Moreover, 81% of these prospective buyers said the safety ratings of vehicles will also influence their decision. Especially if they are presented with two similar vehicles with different safety ratings.

As aforementioned, the five cars that were tested were South Africa’s best-selling car, the VW Polo Vivo, the Datsun Go+, Toyota Etios, Renault Sandero and the Chery QQ3. The combined sales of these five cars account for around 65% of all new cars sold in SA in 2016.

Findings from the survey also showed over 91% of respondents said there should be minimum safety equipment standards. These include ABS, ESC and airbags on all new vehicles sold in South Africa. Such features will add very little to the retail price of new vehicles. Which is why they should be fitted as standard to all new cars.

The AA noted that buyers are no longer swayed by the extras available on vehicles such as Bluetooth features, or the trim on a car. Consequently, more and more buyers are looking at how the vehicle will hold up in a crash. Most of all, how safe their passengers will be in such an event.