In ten years, Chinese manufacturers have made dazzling progress with the help of equipment manufacturers
The most striking example is the Jiangling Landwind model, a pale copy of the 4×4 Isuzu Rodeo, whose design dates back to the late 1980s. Throwing a copy against a deforming barrier at a speed of 64 km/h, the German automobile club ADAC (during a test carried out by Euro NCAP at the time) concluded that the Landwind brought its passengers back. At the level of European cars in circulation 30 years ago. What seriously cooled the passion of buyers and delayed the dreaded invasion for at least a decade.
Read alsoHow much are Chinese electrics and hybrids worth?
Eight years later, another Chinese production hit the headlines – this time for good. The fruit of Chery’s first European ambitions, the Goros 3 sedan surprised everyone in 2013 when it achieved the maximum five-star rating. The explanation for this success was not a secret: Chery engineers received enough credit. use the most reputable Western suppliers, which gave them access to the best technology in terms of braking, suspension and handling. Not to mention the computer-aided design resources essential for modeling hull deformation and energy dissipation during impact.
Euro NCAP tests are tough, but Chinese models often get the maximum score
Although almost a decade has passed, the method is still relevant, even if the design bureaus of Chinese manufacturers have acquired the know-how that allows them to be independent of German, French, Italian and American equipment manufacturers. The five stars achieved by the above-mentioned Nio and Wey models last November 16 have more respect because their ratings were given under the influence of a person. The testing protocol that Euro NCAP continues to tighten. Understand that without constant updating of its standard equipment, a model rated “five stars” one year may drop to four or three stars the next. If not worse, the Renault ZOE had a bitter experience.
There’s a lot to be said for a rating system that’s been revised so often that it’s misleading to compare the few models still on the market. However, it is true that Euro NCAP remains a justice of the peace for consumers as well as manufacturers. This makes the speed with which Chinese manufacturers are able to improve the performance of their cars all the more significant and remarkable.
The solidity of the electric car’s structure benefits the Chinese models coming to Europe
An element that works in favor of Chinese manufacturers is their choice to import cars with almost only electric motors. However, the technical challenge represented by the integration of a massive, hyper-rigid box containing hundreds of lithium batteries helps the entire structure perform well during frontal and side impacts.
Read alsoAiways, the Chinese underdog who wants to win the electric car
A consultation of the test results on the website of the independent organization Euro NCAP confirms that there are no Chinese models on the European market that are more dangerous than their European counterparts. On the other hand, not everyone is entitled to the coveted five stars. A star or two separates cheap vehicles from those who want to provide the highest level of service.
China aims for top five-star Euro NCAP, reliability issue
For example, MG Motor (a brand owned by SAIC Motor) has the 2021 Marvel R with just four stars and the MG ZS EV, which is eligible for one more star in 2019. Probably due to the industry and financial capabilities of its more powerful compatriots, Aiways settles for three stars for the U5 model tested in 2019. While at BYD, Nio, Wey and Ora, the models first evaluated in 2021 and 2022 all received maximum points.
Read alsoChinese manufacturers ignore the traditional sales network
These five stars are worth their weight in gold for these producers who are just approaching the Western European markets. Let’s be sure that they will be eager to update their models and follow the constant evolution of the Euro NCAP rating system. The organization is already talking about new protocols for 2030 to assess the relevance of human-machine interfaces and the effectiveness of driving aids such as detecting drowsiness or correctly reading speed limit signs. Euro NCAP still wants to give itself a means of assessing the ability of airbags to protect bodies of different masses and sizes; to quantify the risk of battery fires on board electric vehicles; assessing the compatibility of communication systems between vehicles and infrastructures (V2X). Grain to grind for engineers.