Every year, the automotive industry eagerly awaits Euro NCAP test results, since they provide telling proof of the safety standards of a vehicle in the event of a crash.
The latest batch of 11 new entrants included seven cars that achieved a five-star rating, headlined by the Mercedes-EQ EQS for its adult and child occupant protection, as well as the Nissan Qashqai for its safety assistance. Other impressive performers included the Fiat 500e and the MG Marvel R, with the pair achieving four-stars.
The overwhelming majority of the 2021 class have passed with flying colours, but the Renault have fared abysmally, with its fully-electric Zoe scored no stars at all.
While the original - which was launched in 2013 - scored a five-star rating in the test, the newer facelifted electric version has received no added safety features, which is a problem when Euro NCAP “raises the bar” in its test criteria every two years. Plus, in one area, the Zoe has effectively been downgraded. Its side-mounted seat airbag, which was previously tailored towards protecting the occupant’s head and thorax, has been substituted with one which only protects the thorax.
Rikard Fredriksson, a Vehicle Safety Advisor from Sweden-based Trafikverket said: ‘’Euro NCAP’s tests highlight the significant differences which arise when the decision is taken not to upgrade the safety level of a vehicle which is kept in production.
“Especially alarming is the airbag downgrading by the manufacturer when its vehicle was facelifted in other non-safety areas. In this release, we can see examples of electric cars at similar price levels but remarkably different safety levels.”
This theme continues throughout the remaining areas of the car, as the Zoe offers minimal vulnerable road user protection, and is void of any significant crash avoidance features. These attributes contributed towards a zero-star rating which presents a huge fall from grace for the company that produced the Laguna, which was the first five-star rated car back in 2001.
Things get from bad to worse for the brand as its subsidiary Dacia, had its all-new fully electric Spring score just one-star. It shares many components with the Chinese-made Renault City K-ZE, which itself is a car that’s forged a poor safety reputation in its years of service in India and Brazil.
Michiel Van Ratingen, the Secretary General of Euro NCAP, was critical in his thoughts about Renault’s latest shortcoming: ‘’Renault was once synonymous with safety. But these disappointing results for the ZOE and the Dacia Spring show that safety has now become collateral damage in the group’s transition to electric cars.”
He continued: ‘’Dacia claimed that they were ‘preoccupied with always increasing safety for those on board’ and that their cars always have passenger safety improved. That’s clearly not the case: not only do these cars fail to offer any appreciable active safety as standard, but their occupant protection is also worse than any vehicle we have seen in many years.’’