The latest from Thatcham Research and it isn’t good news on the electric Renault Zoe;
- The Renault Zoe receives a Euro NCAP zero-star rating, having removed part of vital airbag which protects against head injuries in side impacts.
- Dacia Spring performs poorly in active and passive safety across all assessment categories, resulting in a one-star Euro NCAP rating for the new vehicle.
- BMW iX, Genesis G70 and GV70, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Fabia, and VW Caddy all achieve five-stars with good active and passive safety performance.
The final round of Euro NCAP testing of 2021 reveals some sobering safety scores for two new vehicles from the carmaker who brought five-star safety to the market 20 years ago. The Renault Zoe and Dacia Spring have achieved zero-stars and one-star respectively in safety assessments.
The Renault Zoe, a vehicle in the Supermini class, becomes only the third car in Euro NCAP’s history to achieve a zero-star rating.
In 2021 it is assumed that vehicles coming to market will keep occupants safe in the event of a crash. However, testing of the Renault Zoe has revealed some eye-opening results from the crash test dummies used to simulate real-life impact scenarios.
In the frontal offset crash the results were rated as ‘poor’, due to weak protection for the chest area of the driver side dummy specifically. But it was Euro NCAP’s severe side pole test that revealed the most drastic results, with the driver’s head directly impacting the intruding pole. The test replicates real-world impacts involving a vehicle travelling sideways into rigid roadside objects such as trees or poles. 33% of these impact types are classified as fatal or serious accidents.
As the forces on the car are so localised, the pole can penetrate deeply into the passenger compartment – and without effective protection – can strike the head resulting in serious injuries. As such, the red body parts seen on the dummy shows a potential threat of serious injury and threat to life in the event of an accident.
Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s Chief Research Strategy Officer and Euro NCAP board member comments: “It is a serious concern to see results like this in 2021, especially from a carmaker who has previously performed well in Euro NCAP testing. Renault was the first to achieve the full five-star rating in 2001, in part because it was also the first to include a combined head and thorax airbag in the Laguna 2. Although this was a new and revolutionary safety measure at the time, today this airbag is available on most modern cars. Unfortunately, a conscious decision has been made to remove the head protection from this vital passive safety feature, by the brand that pioneered the use of it. As a result, the safety of occupants within the vehicle has been severely impacted.”
The Renault Zoe was originally tested by Euro NCAP in 2013, where it achieved a five-star rating. However, key passive safety features have since been removed and with Euro NCAP raising the bar in its testing every two years, the Zoe has been left far behind the standard achieved by most carmakers in 2021.
Avery continues, “The adult occupant score of 43% for the Renault Zoe is the lowest we have seen in 11 years. Overall, carmakers today consistently achieve good ratings in impact testing, despite Euro NCAP raising the bar to ensure the programme remains the most safety-focused in the world.
“It’s a shame to see Renault threaten a safety pedigree built from the inception of the rating.”
The Renault Zoe also lacks active safety technology commonly fitted as standard in most new vehicles, technology such as Lane Departure Warnings that is shown to have a lower involvement rate in fatal crashes by up to 86%.
It is also lacking standard-fit Autonomous Emergency Braking, one of the most important recent developments in car safety which has been shown to reduce front-to-rear crashes with injuries by 56%.
The result was a 14% score in the Safety Assist category, 61% lower than the average (75%) achieved by carmakers in the same category this year.
Avery continues: “Drivers should not have to trade off safety for zero emissions. Motorists can still save the planet and enjoy a car that could play a vital role in saving their family in the event of a crash. There are many other options of a similar price and size that have achieved solid ratings and feature a host of active safety systems as standard too. Even looking within the Renault stable, the Clio is an affordable five-star hybrid vehicle that retails at £10,000 less than the Zoe and still allows drivers to be environmentally conscious without sacrificing safety.”