What you need to know: Optional NCAP

What you need to know: Optional NCAP

You’ve got a 4-star safety rating, now what?

If your vehicle did not achieve the NHTSA NCAP Star Safety Rating that you had hoped, the NHTSA’s “Optional” New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) might be right for you.

What it is:

In 1987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a notice establishing an Optional NCAP test program as part of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The optional NCAP program operates according to the same guidelines and procedures as the regular NCAP. This program serves to provide consumers with “up-to-date” safety information on vehicles that may have:

  • Undergone a mid-model year production change
  • Models with optional safety equipment that NHTSA had not selected for prior testing
  • A make and model not selected for testing by the agency

Optional NCAP testing is something that vehicle manufacturers can request outside of the typical cycle of government testing. Why re-test, you may ask? One reason is to prove that mid-year vehicle changes have indeed improved a vehicle’s NCAP Star Safety Rating.

Who it pertains to:

Any car manufacturer who partakes in the New Car Assessment Program. Particularly, manufacturers of a vehicle that was awarded a safety rating that is less than perfect and whose have implemented midyear improvements which will improve the vehicle’s safety performance.

How to take advantage:

Manufacturers must submit evidence to the NHTSA that proves that changes have been made to the vehicle to significantly improve its NCAP test results and that they would like their Optional NCAP test conducted at Calspan. The agency will then analyze the manufacturer’s submission and will inform the manufacturer whether it has approved the vehicle for optional testing. Once approved, NHTSA will locate a test vehicle in order for Calspan to run the appropriate test.

What is the timeline?

Typically, Optional NCAP tests are run during the third and fourth quarter, meaning paperwork must be submitted well in advance of that.

Calspan is a NHTSA NCAP vehicle crash test laboratory that is frequently called upon by vehicle manufacturers for the execution of optional NCAP tests including Full Frontal, Side Pole, Side Moving Deformable Barrier. These tests are executed in Calspan’s state-of-the-art test facility with its MESSRING Microtrack and propulsion system which provides perfect speed and impact point.

Who should I contact?

If you’re interested in running Optional NCAP tests, Gerald Goupil is here to help.  You can reach him at [email protected], or contact us to learn more.

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