New Car Assessment Program Tests

The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) is a government-backed consumer focused initiative. Whereby independent vehicle crash test laboratories conduct crash tests, per official test protocols, on production vehicles. Test data, is then condensed into an easy-to-understand format that allows consumers to easily compare vehicle safety ratings.

This program was developed and implemented first in the United States by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) division in 1979. Based on the merits of this first program, it was then adopted in Europe (Euro NCAP) in 1997. Today, similar programs are now in place in Australia and New Zealand (ANCAP), in Japan (JNCAP), in Korea (KNCAP), in China (C-NCAP), in Latin America (Latin NCAP) and in Southeast Asia (ASEAN NCAP).


  • Official NCAP Tests. Each year the NHTSA randomly purchases vehicles from across the United States that are crash tested by Calspan using government furnished crash test dummies. A proud honor that Calspan has been fulfilling since the program’s inception. The test modes include Full Frontal, Side Moving Deformable Barrier and the Side Pole.

  • Optional NCAP Tests. In 1987, the NHTSA published a notice establishing an Optional Test Program. The optional program serves to provide consumers with up-to-date safety information on new vehicles that have undergone a mid-model year production change, models with optional safety equipment that the agency had not selected for testing, or a make and model not selected for testing by the agency. The optional NCAP program operates according to the same guidelines and procedures as the regular NCAP.

    In order for a vehicle that has already been tested by the agency to qualify for testing under the optional NCAP program, a vehicle manufacturer must request an Optional NCAP Test to be conducted at Calspan and submit to NHTSA evidence that it has changed the vehicle to improve significantly the NCAP test results for that vehicle. The agency then analyzes the manufacturer’s submission and informs the manufacturer whether it has approved the vehicle for optional testing.

  • Trial NCAP Tests. Whenever, a vehicle manufacturer desires to have a vehicle tested to one of these test protocols, even on vehicles under development and not yet at dealers, Calspan can execute such tests but utilizing crash test dummies owned by Calspan.

  • New U.S. Test Protocols. For many years, Calspan has been supporting NHTSA research initiatives by conducting crash tests to test protocols and equipment under development. As a result, Calspan has amassed an exceptional level of skill and technical proficiency in this area, surpassing any other crash test laboratory in the world. Learn more about these test protocols.

  • Common U.S. NCAP Test modes conducted at Calspan:

56 km/h Flat Frontal with an HIII 50th and a HIII 5th 

56 km/h Flat Frontal with a THOR 50th and two HIII 5ths 

32 km/h Side Pole with a SID-IIs

32 km/h Side Pole with WorldSID 50th (RibEYE)

90 km/h Frontal Oblique using the OMDB and two THOR 50ths 

62 km/h Side MDB with a ES-2re and a SID-IIs 

62 km/h Side MDB with a WorldSID 50th (RibEYE) and a SID-IIs

Calspan also conducts out of position (OoP/TWG) static deployment tests


Euro NCAP 

  • Development Tests. Calspan has the expertise and specialty equipment to conduct Euro NCAP full vehicle crash tests.  This includes having the only, indoor test facility in the U.S. with dual guide rails which are needed to conduct the Euro NCAP moving progressive deformable barrier (MPDB) crash test (vehicle to vehicle). Calspan is also one of the few independent crash labs that owns a full set of Q-dummies.

  • Common Euro NCAP Test modes conducted at Calspan:

50 km/h Flat Frontal with two HIII 5ths 

50 km/h Flat Frontal with three HIII 5ths

32 km/h Side Pole with a WorldSID 50th (IR-TRACC)

50 km/h MPDB with a THOR 50th, a HIII 50th, a Q6 and a Q10

60 km/h Side MDB with a WorldSID 50th (IR-TRACC), a Q6 and a Q10

Latin NCAP 

  • 50 km/h Side MDB with a ES-2, a Q1.5 and a Q3
  • 64 km/h 40% ODB with two HIII 50ths, a Q1.5 and a Q3
  • 29 km/h Side Pole with ES-2