In order for cars to be considered roadworthy, they need to be tested extensively first. But, according to Michiel van Ratingen, head of vehicle safety testing organisation Euro NCAP, cars aren’t being tested thoroughly enough. He’s suggested that the need to constantly refresh model line-ups is causing manufacturers to cut down on the time spent developing new cars. It has the knock on effect of cars needing to be recalled.
Van Ratingen has said “development times have decreased significantly over the last decade. On average, you have a manufacturer developing a vehicle in 18 to 24 months, whereas before it would be three years.”
Van Ratingen was asked how issues such as the wearing down of battery and fuse box connectors in BMWs could be addressed. When this happens, cars have been known to cut out at speed, which has to led to 312,000 BMWs being recalled. He responded with “I think the only recommendation would be to do more testing before they release new components, which is a shared responsibility between the manufacturer and supplier.”
He added “it’s all this pressure that’s on the vehicle supplier to come up with new models and variants, and you have to keep renewing your vehicle fleet otherwise you’ll be seen as a weak manufacturer. That’s driving them to short-cutting the development times needed for some of these systems and parts. And we clearly see more failures in our testing as a result, at which point manufacturers have to change their vehicle.”
“That’s something that we can clearly see happening, which we didn’t have so much of in the past. It’s again the same reason. They don’t really test very carefully – they don’t have time to do that anymore and they just launch it under the pressure of the market.”
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, Mike Hawes disagreed. ‘Safety is the number one priority for the industry, which spends billions developing and extensively testing vehicles, and to suggest otherwise shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the vehicle development process.”
“Manufacturers do not cut corners on safety testing, which is, in fact, being undertaken with ever greater intensity due to a growing number of new safety systems and legal standards, and as the industry strives to get the latest technology to market and make our roads ever safer. Recalls are further evidence of manufacturers’ dedication to safety, with ongoing in-service monitoring and testing helping to keep the now 34.7 million cars on our roads safe and reliable throughout their life cycles.”