The ASEAN New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) pilot project is set to have its protocols finalised next week in Sydney, when representatives from the programme meet their Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) counterparts for a week long collaboration on the matter. The release of the ASEAN NCAP protocol is set for March 16.

This follows on the collaborative Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP) and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) in December last year to establish a pilot project for a South-East Asian NCAP to elevate motor vehicle safety standards, encourage a market for safer vehicles and raise consumer awareness in the region.

Signatories to this MOU include ANCAP as well as the Automobile Associations of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. ANCAP’s role will be to provide technical and program support to the ASEAN NCAP to ensure that the program pursues protocols and procedures that will ensure meaningful, accurate and reliable test results. It will also assist ASEAN NCAP in aligning with other NCAP’s around the world.

The need for an ASEAN NCAP has been brought about by fact that different safety features exist between specific models car manufacturers sell in their region and those exported to or assembled in ASEAN countries – the argument goes that Euro NCAP results aren’t applicable to the same model cars as sold in ASEAN, since cars sold in the region usually have fewer safety features in order to attain a lower selling price.

The project partners will be tasked to independently select the vehicles for testing based on the least expensive – and usually less well-equipped – variant of the model available in the major markets of the region. The selection of non-airbag variants are also set to be included.

Testing is set to be carried out here in Malaysia at the new PC3 Crash Lab test facility being developed by MIROS, will be based on the 40% front impact crash test regulation of the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (ECE: Reg. 94), but at a speed of 65 km/h – the test protocol and procedures are to follow that of the European NCAP covering the protection of both adult and child.

The first internal crash test, including a pre-ASEAN NCAP crash test, is set to take place sometime in late April to early May, with ASEAN NCAP crash test 001 scheduled for May 24, in conjuction with the 2012 annual meeting of the Global NCAP scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur. The event will also see the launch of the PC3 lab and ASEAN NCAP programme.