Heavy SUVs and electric cars pose “safety concern”, says European crash tester

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Euro NCAP – the European counterpart of local crash-test body ANCAP – has expressed concern about the growing weight of vehicles, including SUVs and electric cars.


Customer preference for SUVs and increasingly-heavy electric cars poses a threat to other road users, according to crash-test body ANCAP’s European sister organisation Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Program).

Following its final crash tests of 2023, the Secretary General of Euro NCAP, Dr Michael van Ratingen, said in a media statement that customer preference was leading car makers to build larger, heavier vehicles which pose a greater danger on public roads.

“Of the 11 new cars rated [in the latest round of testing], only three weigh less than two tonnes,” Mr van Ratingen said.

“This is a trend that helps neither safety nor the environment: big, heavy cars are generally less energy efficient than small, light ones, and there is a safety concern when those two types of vehicles collide or, worse, when vulnerable road users are involved.

The cars tested range from the circa-1400kg Hyundai Kona and Honda ZR-V family SUVs, to the two-tonne-plus Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV and Kia EV9 electric vehicles.

In both Europe and Australia, SUVs are the most popular vehicle type for new-car buyers, with SUVs outselling traditional ‘passenger cars’ (such as hatchbacks and sedans) in Europe for the first time from January to June 2023.

“For years, Euro NCAP was accused of pushing up the weight of cars.It was thought that additional safety features meant extra mass,” Mr van Ratingen said in a media statement.

“That was never really the case and the increase in vehicle weight we see nowadays is certainly not safety-related – it is down to consumer preference for larger vehicles and to electrification, with ever bigger batteries being used to quell consumers’ range anxiety.”

Euro NCAP works with Australia’s ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program), with the two safety organisations recently renewing their ties.

ANCAP shares Euro NCAP crash test results to determine safety ratings on many cars for Australia, where it deems appropriate

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