How can car manufacturers still build such unsafe products?
In a world where companies are on the cusp of delivering truly autonomous cars, it is amazing that some manufacturers are still willing to build and sell cars that fail crash tests. The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) is one of the most trusted vehicle safety institutions globally and finds that, left to their own devices, most car companies tend to skimp out on safety tech, especially at the lower end of the market. At the other end of the spectrum, cars such as the Tesla Model 3 continue to set benchmarks in vehicle safety. The latest trainwreck to hit the roads of Europe is the Renault Zoe, which recently managed to score zero stars on the Euro NCAP rating system. We didn't even think that was possible, and we're frankly shocked that a prestigious automaker such as Renault has allowed this car to pass its own internal tests.
The Renault Zoe is a five-door supermini electric car that was first introduced back in 2012 and, since a major facelift in 2019, hasn't seen any significant safety upgrades. Euro NCAP this week announced its final safety ratings for 2021, and of the final 11 models tested, the Zoe came in at the very bottom, with the Dacia Spring at least scoring a single star. This is the worst performance Renault has ever had in these tests, with Euro NCAP saying that "Renault Laguna's legacy is ruined". After the rest, Euro NCAP revealed that the Zoe offered poor crash protection overall and poor user protection, and lacked "meaningful crash avoidance technology". In fact, the 2020 facelift has made the car even worse by replacing the seat-mounted side airbag with a thorax-only airbag.
The NCAP gave the Zoe a score of 52% in child occupant protection, 43% for adult occupants, 41% for vulnerable road users, and only 14% for safety assist features. The Dacia Spring, which is related to the Renault Kwid, also scored poorly, and only managed 49% in adult occupant and 56% in child occupant protection.
Speaking on these worrying results, Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP showed his disappointment:
"Renault was once synonymous with safety. The Laguna was the first car to get five stars, back in 2001. 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. Only a few months ago, 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. It is cynical to offer the consumer an affordable green car if it comes at the price of higher injury risk in the event of an accident. Other cars, such as the FIAT 500e, recently awarded 5 stars in Green NCAP, show that safety does not need to be sacrificed for environmental cleanliness."
Ouch. We're glad it's not sold here.