Thatcham, the UK-based research and training operation, has recently joined the board of the NCAP operation, and believes its new car whiplash ratings are the next step in providing consumers with safety information about every model.
“We are ready to introduce whiplash protection as a new safety feature in NCAP,” says Thatcham chief executive Peter Roberts.
The company has been carrying out whiplash tests for the past two years and has built up a databank of information on 400 models. In May, it will release the findings of its first dynamic tests – until now all research has been static testing – covering 100 types of seat, equivalent to 70% of the UK car parc.
This is based on the £1m HyperG sled that simulates front, side and rear collisions. In the UK, there are around 200,000 cases of whiplash every year, costing insurers a total of about £1.6bn.
“It will take around three years to get every car seat fully compliant,” says Matthew Avery, Thatcham crash laboratory manager. “We need manufacturers to get involved with us at a much earlier stage in the design process so they can plan Euro NCAP and the whiplash testing into the design of the car from the start.” The Thatcham tests have also led to many improvements in seat design, including stiffer and higher seat backs, bigger head restraints and active head rest technology.
Among the top ranking carmakers are Honda, Volvo, Saab, Peugeot and Toyota. VW Group brands, Fiat and Alfa Romeo fare poorly.