Model X rated by Euro safety program — still nothing from ANCAP

Posted
5 December 2019

The Tesla Model X dropped in Australia in 2016 with Tesla’s already strong safety record to back it up. By 2017, the US Model X became the first SUV to achieve a 5 star rating on every category of the NHTSA’s safety testing. But from Australia’s own ANCAP safety program there was nothing. For years, neither ANCAP nor their European counterparts at Euro NCAP had tested the Model X — until this week.

Euro NCAP released their appraisal of the 2019 Model X yesterday, awarding it an overall 5 star rating based on their comprehensive test program. Check out the video below.

The Model X scored 98% on adult occupant protection, 81% for child occupant protection, 72% for vulnerable road users, and 94% for its safety assist package. These are particularly noteworthy compared to Euro NCAP’s other test results; only the Maxda CX-30 outperformed on adult occupant protection (at 99%) and the nearest non-Tesla score on safety assist is the Citroen C5 at 82%. 

But as positive as this result is for Tesla, they can’t advertise it outside Europe. NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) ratings are only valid for the specific region in which they’re applied. So until Australia’s version of the program (ANCAP) deliver their verdict, Tesla can’t claim it here.

Euro NCAP? ANCAP? What’s the difference?

There are 9 NCAP organisations worldwide, partnered in their mission to advance vehicle safety standards, but varying slightly on methodology based on the needs of their specific region. ANCAP stands for ‘Australasian New Car Assessment Program’ and provides ratings to vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand. 

It’s important to remember that ANCAP aren’t a regulatory organisation; automakers don’t technically have to submit their new cars for testing to sell them in Australia — 5% of vehicles aren’t.

ANCAP considers their non-government pedigree as an essential part of their function. 

“ANCAP is an independent, non-regulatory consumer information organisation which exists to enhance the safety of the Australian and New Zealand vehicle fleets by encouraging the highest levels of vehicle safety. ANCAP works to complement the regulatory Australian Design Rules (ADRs) as set by the Australian Government.

ANCAP’s role is complementary to regulation. It encourages vehicle brands to include the latest vehicle safety technology beyond the minimum regulatory standards, promoting quicker introduction of new technology.

One of the main benefits of ANCAP is its flexibility to encourage the swift adoption of important vehicle safety features and technologies ahead of the development of a regulation. ANCAP is able to use early research to identify and encourage safety features and technologies that are potentially beneficial without the constraints required for regulatory action.”

ANCAP received a visit from a Euro NCAP safety inspector last year as part of its “reciprocal test data sharing and protocol alignment”. 

By communicating and comparing processes between the disparate NCAP organisations, they’re hoping to align their standards as much as possible while preserving their region-specific function. 

Dr Michiel van Ratingen is Secretary General at Euro NCAP:

“It is important we collaborate on all levels. We want safer cars for everyone, no matter which country or region they live, and our approach to align with ANCAP from this year is already seeing vehicle manufacturers build cars to a higher standard for both world markets.”

So how applicable is the Euro NCAP score to Australian Model Xs? Well, it’s a good sign, but not really comparable to scores obtained under ANCAP’s testing procedure. 

Tesla have had 3 years to submit the Model X to ANCAP for testing, and if their NHTSA and Euro NCAP scores are anything to go by they’d probably score extremely well. Perhaps it’s just not worth the half-a-million dollar average cost of completing the test.

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