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Regional safety body ASEAN NCAP has announced a proposed move to a single unified safety rating for every car model sold in South East Asia by 2017, according to The Sun – this will replace the current multiple-rating system used for variants of the same car with differing levels of safety equipment.

Secretary-general Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim told the publication that the move was aimed to eliminate confusion among consumers, as well as the manipulation of the ratings by certain manufacturers when marketing their cars. He elaborated that only the lowest variant of a particular model from within the region will be evaluated in crash tests come 2017.

“We found that the dual rating system has been manipulated by some manufacturers in their car advertisements,” Khairil said. “For example, a car model which received a three-star safety rating was marketed [with a five-star rating], which was actually awarded to a different variant of the same model.”

The agency has been testing different variants of the same model (sometimes from different countries in the region) since the programme began three years ago. The most stark example of the multiple rating system can be seen on the Kia Picanto – the car sold in Malaysia with six airbags as standard scored a four-star rating, while the version offered in Thailand with no airbags netted no stars.

Left: Kia Picanto with six airbags (four stars), right: with no airbags (no stars)

In addition, ASEAN NCAP appears to be moving towards a single overall rating for each car, incorporating both adult occupant protection (AOP) and child occupant protection (COP) in 2017 – the scores for these two are currently presented as separate star ratings. “It will be 50% for AOP and 25% for COP to ensure a vehicle receives the highest star award and also provides the best protection for the child inside a car,” he said.

Safety assist technologies (SAT) such as ABS, stability control, blind spot monitoring and automated emergency braking (AEB) will also be evaluated within the next 14 months, contributing another 25% to the overall rating. “Crash avoidance is our next objective.” Khairil said. “This reflects our effort to put pressure on the car manufacturers to install more safety features and produce safer cars.”

The proposal was outlined at the recent ASEAN NCAP 2017-2020 road map presented at an international conference in Bandung, Indonesia recently, and is said to be a natural progression of the programme.