Opel Ampera-E Nets Disappointing 4 -Star Score In Euro NCAP Safety Tests (w/video)

3 weeks ago by Anthony Karr 32

Six other models join the five-star club.

Ampera-E After Euro NCAP Crash Test

The all-new Opel Ampera-e could be considered one of the biggest disappointments from Euro NCAP’s latest batch of tested vehicles. Six cars were awarded five stars, but the European brother of the Chevrolet Bolt got only four.

The all-electric vehicle performed relatively well in most of the categories, but the organization points out it has no seatbelt reminder for the rear seats.

While this might sound like a minor issue, General Secretary of Euro NCAP Michiel van Ratingen says “we know how effective these reminders are at promoting seatbelt use, so this is clearly a big step backwards on Opel’s part.”

It’s a trend the German manufacturer set with the new Insignia which offered rear seatbelt reminders only as an option.

On the positive side, the Ampera-e is praised for its autonomous emergency braking system, which performed well in tests of its highway-speed functionality, with collisions avoided or mitigated in all test scenarios.

Opel Ampera-E Euro NCAP Results

The Ford Fiesta, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet, Opel Grandland X, and Renault Koleos all received five stars. The Fiesta becomes only the second supermini to join the five-star club this year, following the excellent results from the new SEAT Ibiza. Kia’s Picanto and Rio received three stars with the standard equipment, but were rated as four and five stars respectively when tested with the optional safety packs.

Euro NCAP was not particularly happy by the apparent lack of restraint robustness in side impact testing by some of the models. In the Jeep Compass, for example, dummy readings indicated injury risk values above the limit to qualify for points in the pole test, while in the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, during the side barrier test, the side airbag did not fully cover the impact area.

“Euro NCAP is pushing for the fitment of advanced technologies and manufacturers have responded well, with AEB now commonplace on most new cars,” Ratingen added. “However, they should not forget the basics of occupant protection in case of a crash.”

Press blast below:

Today, Euro NCAP releases safety ratings for nine new cars. The Ford Fiesta, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet, Opel Grandland X and Renault Koleos are all awarded five stars while Opel’s all-electric Ampera-e gets four. Kia’s supermini Picanto and small-family Rio both achieve three stars with standard safety equipment but are rated as four and five stars respectively when tested with their optional safety packs(1).

Some of this month’s cars demonstrated an apparent lack of restraint robustness in side impact testing. In the pole test of the Jeep Compass, readings in the dummy’s chest indicated injury risk values above the limit to qualify for points, but below those which indicate an unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury. Likewise, in the side barrier test, the head of the dummy representing a 10-year-old child, seated behind the driver, struck the roof frame in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet as the side airbag did not fully cover the impact area. In the same test with the Kia Picanto, the chest of the 10-year-old child was poorly protected.

Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP, “Euro NCAP is pushing for the fitment of advanced technologies and manufacturers have responded well, with AEB now commonplace on most new cars. However, they should not forget the basics of occupant protection in case of a crash. All occupants deserve to be equally well protected, whether they’re an adult driver or a child seated in the rear. The adoption of a 10-year-old child dummy in our test last year allows us to highlight areas for improvement, even in five star cars.”

The Ampera-e, while achieving a creditable four-star rating, disappointed in having no seatbelt reminder for the rear seats. This follows a trend set by the Opel Insignia which offered rear seatbelt reminders only as an option. Michiel van Ratingen, “It is very disappointing to see Opel do away with this simple, relatively inexpensive but life-saving technology. If occupants are not properly restrained, any additional means of protection are largely ineffective. We know how effective these reminders are at promoting seatbelt use, so this is clearly a big step backwards on Opel’s part.”

Finally, the 7th generation Ford Fiesta joins the Seat Ibiza as the second supermini this year to achieve a five-star rating with standard equipment only. Competitor Kia Picanto did not achieve the same performance in Euro NCAP’s tests, but consumers have the option to purchase the “Advanced Driving Assistance Pack”, available on all variants, to enhance its crash avoidance capabilities.

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32 responses to "Opel Ampera-E Nets Disappointing 4 -Star Score In Euro NCAP Safety Tests (w/video)"

  1. Arpe says:

    It seems stupid by Opel to miss 5-star rating because they didn’t want to spend 5 seconds installing seat belt reminders in the car.

    With the new “safety” tax models in Denmark from October this leaves the car 1200 USD more expensive, allthough it may not arrive here untill 2019.

    1. Viking79 says:

      Agree it seems a bit strange, if you look at the test performance, the Bolt EV (Ampera-E) scores similarly to the 2014 Model S. Granted, the heavier vehicle will be better to be in, generally speaking, but the actual test performance being comparable speaks volumes for how sturdy cars are made today while remaining efficient for weight.

    2. FISHEV says:

      The Bolt rated “Superior” in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests which is, arguably, the world leader in crash testing and vehicle safety. A bit ahead of the Tesla S.

      http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/chevrolet/bolt-4-door-hatchback

  2. philip d says:

    Seems pretty punitive to take away an entire star for just a lack of seat belt warning when some of the other cars seem to have poorly designed rear airbags but retain their 5 star rating.

    “in the side barrier test, the head of the dummy representing a 10-year-old child, seated behind the driver, struck the roof frame in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet as the side airbag did not fully cover the impact area. In the same test with the Kia Picanto, the chest of the 10-year-old child was poorly protected.”

    1. Mikael says:

      It’s not an entire star for that…it is an entire star for the overall not good enough safety rating.

      But it is idiotic by Opel/GM to not include such a simple solution that adds safety.

  3. Jeroen says:

    That’s not good. A 5-star rating is crucial for many…

  4. bro1999 says:

    Pretty silly that a star would be taken away not because of a fault with the seatbelts, but lack of a warning system for the seatbelts. The car is just as safe in an accident, seatbelt warning system or not.

    On the flip side, it seems like such a minor thing that should have been considered way back. And should be easy to remedy in future MYs

    1. Nick says:

      > The car is just as safe in an accident, seatbelt warning system or not.

      It’s not as safe without the warning.

      They indicated that the warning was effective for increasing seat belt usage. That improves safety.

    2. Mikael says:

      No, it is not. You risk having an occupant without seat-belt flying around in the car which is not safe for that person or other people in the car.

      And the star removal is because overall the results were not good enough. If they improved other areas they could get 5 stars without seat-belt warners.

      1. Viking79 says:

        My experience is I have never used the rear seat belt warning to increase seatbelt usage. The issue is in most situations, people will either wear their seatbelt all the time or not at all.

        The rear seat warning system in my Volt only alerts me if the belt had already been buckled and becomes unbuckled, so it won’t prevent someone from not putting it on at all (although the light will illuminate green when they buckle). However, I don’t need the light for this. I can, and do, perform this check verbally. My point is, a small amount of discipline eliminates any need for a warning light on this.

  5. ffbj says:

    Probably what it deserves. It did clip that ones guys leg off.

    1. bro1999 says:

      The AEB rating was very good. If that dummy was a real person, perhaps they would have suffered a broken/fractured leg, but a car without functioning automatic emergency braking (hello recent Teslas) would have resulted in a much more grim fate for sure.

      Does Tesla even offer emergency pedestrian braking?

      1. ffbj says:

        Euro NCAP deciding not eligible for autonomous emergency braking test

        1. unlucky says:

          Because of the headrests.

          That doesn’t make any sense.

      2. floydboy says:

        What is your ‘Tesla on the brain’ obsession?
        Have you even bothered to look at Tesla’s results? You know that that AEB is working in all of Tesla’s cars?

      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        If you were not a Tesla hating troll and serial FUDster, Bro1999, then perhaps you would have asked a more pertinent question: Just how many pedestrians has Tesla Automatic Emergency Braking already saved from crippling injuries and fatal accidents? Of course, we’ll never know the number, but it’s certainly growing!

        From July 2016: The Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) of Tesla’s Autopilot reportedly saved the life or prevented serious injury of a pedestrian in Washington DC last week.

        Full article: https://electrek.co/2016/07/21/tesla-autopilot-saved-life-prevented-serious-injury-pedestrian-dc/

  6. ffbj says:

    The rear seatbelt reminder is merely the tip of the iceberg, with the Ampera-e also lacking in the area of driver’s knee airbag. The biggest offender, however, is the marginal whiplash protection offered by the front-seat headrests in a rear-end collision.

    “A geometric assessment of the rear seats also indicated marginal protection,” with the Euro NCAP deciding not eligible for autonomous emergency braking test points because the seats and headrests are not up to the job. These, in turn, have earned the 2017 Opel Ampera-e and the Vauxhall-branded derivative four stars from the Euro NCAP, which is one star down on conventional subcompact hatchback vehicles such as the 2017 Ford Fiesta.

  7. Tom says:

    That is one of the most solid passenger compartments I’ve seen in a crash test. Superb protection. I think I can remind my kids to put their seatbelts on. I don’t believe I’ve ever owned a vehicle with rear seat reminders.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      It’s not so much reminding to put them on, it’s knowing if they were to take them off.

      When I’m driving, I always want to know that anyone riding has their seatbelt on, child or adult. I don’t want human projectiles in the cabin in a collision.

  8. Bill Howland says:

    I thought they weren’t doing right-hand drive Vauxhall’s…..

    I always wear a seat belt if it is available, therefore I agree with most here that the car is 5 – star as far as I’m concerned, since ‘IF’ they had included the warning, the car would not be the least bit safer for me, since I (and any passengers) would already have taken advantage of the standard safety equipment.

    That said, the Euro tests seem quite comprehensive. They certainly ruined enough brand new Ampera-E’s in the process.

    1. unlucky says:

      They aren’t. Europe drives on the left.

  9. Mark.ca says:

    Is it’s just for back seat belts then this is a non issue. I’m sure most don’t even check the rating before buying anyway.

    1. theflew says:

      It’s just the rear seats. Front seats do warn you. It does seem pretty minor to remove a star to indicate the car could be less safe. When in reality it appears really safe in both crashes and avoidance.

      I taught my kids to wear their seatbelts. No reminders necessary – regardless of where they sit or what car they are in.

    2. wavelet says:

      You’d be very wrong.

      In my market, I don’t know of a single person shopping for a car for a family who doesn’t check the ratings ( many people download the detailed PDFs as well, as they are very transparent and easy to understand); many people use the ratings as a filter, and don’t even consider a car with mediocre ratings. All road tests here also publish the ratings.

      1. Mark.ca says:

        Everyone i asked today did not know the rating of their car. Do the same exercise and get back to me…

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          What you said.

          If Wavelet doesn’t know of anyone who didn’t check the safety rating of a car before buying it, then he must have asked very few people!

  10. unlucky says:

    The problems with the physical crash systems are a much bigger deal to me than something like the seatbelt warning.

    The kids can remember to put their seatbelts on, and the parent can warn them. It’s not a big deal.

    I also don’t get how listing “active bonnet” as a separate system makes any sense. Why discriminate with a red X against cars that meet the pedestrian impact standard by methods other than an active bonnet? This just seems like a way to encourage the prices of new cars to go up, and that’s not good, it’ll push people into older cars that are less safe. Mark it down if it doesn’t pass the test, but don’t mark it down for not having an expensive feature because it doesn’t need it to meet the standard.

    Interesting to see that the Ampera-e has collision prevention standard, it’s optional on a Bolt.

    1. Mikael says:

      What viable alternatives to the active bonnet do you know of?

      And if there were viable alternatives surely they would go into that section too.

      1. unlucky says:

        The regulation is that the pedestrian must not come in contact with unyielding parts of the car when they are struck. Essentially, they cannot contact engine/motor.

        There are a couple ways to do this, most notable is to be rear-engined/motored. But having the engine/motor be low enough under the hood that even when the hood gives the passenger doesn’t contact the engine also satisfies the regulation.

        Being rear engined or having a low engine compared to hood height are both very viable and affordable options in an EV. And they are in some ICE cars too.

        So there is no need to call out active bonnet specifically as it is not required to pass the regulations.

  11. Tim Miser says:

    So how do I know that AEB is working in the Bolt? In my wife’s Rouge, engages periodically when it thinks you are heading for a collision but I’ve never experienced this yet in the Bolt.

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Well, GM has that system in other new Chevy now. So, it should be “added”.

    But I agree that deducting 1 star just for lack of a “reminder” is a bit harsh. Then again, it is a “Safety rating”, not a crash worthiness rating.

  13. Clive says:

    No Bueno.

    They need to rename it Chevy Jolt !!

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