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Thatcham Research reveals 'encouraging' assisted driving results

Vauxhall Mokka-E undergoing Thatcham Research Assisted Driving Grading assessment

Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP have said they are ‘encouraged’ by the results of their latest assisted driving gradings.

The gradings show all seven of the vehicle manufacturers whose cars were tested are committed to fitting robust Assisted driving technology at every price point, said Thatcham Research.

Seven new cars were assessed during the latest tests - five of them being pure electric vehicles (EVs), reflecting the increasing popularity of this type of vehicle within the new car market.

Each car was evaluated and rated for the level of assistance, level of driver engagement and effectiveness of the safety back-up offered by their assisted driving systems.

Matthew Avery, chief strategic research officer at Thatcham Research, said: “Assisted driving technology can be a great comfort feature, especially when supporting drivers on long motorway journeys.

“But it must strike the right balance between offering a meaningful level of assistance and ensuring that motorists don’t sit back and let the system do the driving.

“We’ve seen the dangerous outcomes on roads around the world when drivers become convinced that their role is secondary.

“All seven cars we’ve just tested are clearly marketed as having ‘driver assistance’ functions, not ‘automated’.

“These systems are engineered to involve and support the driver in a very cooperative manner.

“They’re certainly not trying to offer automation, where the driving task can be relinquished to the vehicle, and we strongly believe that’s the right thing to do.”

BMW iX3 'top performer'

BMW’s iX3 emerged as the top performer, scoring 169 points (out of a possible 200) and earning a ‘very good’ grading, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E (152 points) and Cupra Formentor (144 points) both secured a ‘good’ grading.

The all-electric Polestar 2 (135 points) and Hyundai Ioniq 5 (126 points) earned a ‘moderate’ grading, while the less expensive Toyota Yaris (109 points) and Vauxhall Mokka-e (101 points) were both handed an ‘entry’ grading for the solid core performance of their assisted driving technology.

Avery added: “These encouraging results reveal solid system performance across a good spread of new vehicles, and the fact that five of the seven cars are full EVs is also positive.

“It shows the newest cars in this growing sector are being equipped with assisted driving technology that delivers comfort and safety benefits to drivers.”

Last year’s assisted driving grading results prompted Thatcham Research to raise concerns that some carmakers were overselling the supposed self-driving capability of their technology.

The naming, marketing and performance of Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ system was highlighted as a concern.

However, Thatcham Research said the capability of all the cars in this year’s assessments is being described correctly and consumers are not being led to believe they are driving a car equipped with automated functionality.

Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP’s assisted driving grading assessments were introduced in October 2020 and are designed to support the sensible marketing and safe adoption of assisted driving technology.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) recently published a series of “guiding principles” to prevent customer confusion about the 'hands-free' driving capabilities of their car.

2021 Assisted Driving Grading results

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