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22 February 2012

Third-world crash safety a thing of the past: ASEAN NCAP to start testing this year

Words by Niky Tamayo
In cooperation with the Australian NCAP (New Car Assessment Program), under the Global NCAP initiative, a home-grown testing program is set to begin this April in Malaysia to verify the safety of vehicles sold in South East Asia. Called the ASEAN NCAP, this initiative is a joint effort involving the Automobile Associations of Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
This is in recognition that region-specific models and variants are not identical to models sold outside the region, and is in response to the growing need for crash-safety certification in South East Asia. The ASEAN NCAP standard will closely follow the Euro-NCAP and A-NCAP standards, with a 65 km/h offset frontal crash test. Special attention will also be paid to base models that may not be equipped with airbags and other safety equipment deemed mandatory in more developed markets like Europe. This test is more stringent than the current 56 km/h Chinese NCAP offset-frontal test, though that is also set to be increased to 64 km/h later this year.
This move will go a long way to relieving the stigma of poor crash safety associated with ASEAN-only products and will help improve the safety of specific products which are substandard compared to their global counterparts. 
The Global NCAP Annual Meeting will be held in Malaysia this year, as part of the 2012 South East Asian Automotive Safety week. The focus of this meeting will be the new ASEAN initiative and the state-of-the-art testing facilities being built in Malaysia.
There is no word though if commercial vehicles like the L300 and Asian-Utility Vehicles will be included in the tests. One hopes that the Philippine government would take an interest in this initiative and fund a similar testing facility in the Philippines. The proximity to a certified testing center might help entice more manufacturers to assemble vehicles here. Another possibility is to start testing native-built utility vehicles and jeepneys to raise the standards of safety on the roads.