Fleet News

Crash performance to figure in choice criteria, say managers

A CAR'S crash test performance is to become a key part of the company car decision-making process, according to fleet managers who visited the Transport Research Laboratory at Crowthorne, Berks, to see at first hand the results of the latest European New Car Assessment Programme tests. Although only a handful of fleet managers took up the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' invitation to see the wreckage of the 12 crashed lower medium sector vehicles and discuss the results with Euro NCAP and TRL expert, those who did attend said they would be using the information gleaned when addressing vehicle choice issues.

The published results caused a storm of protest from some manufacturers. Many questioned why three of the sector's best-selling cars - the Ford Escort, Vauxhall Astra and Rover 200 were not tested - while others attacked the results as inconsistent and unobjective. Nevertheless the consortium behind the Euro NCAP tests believes the results - which follow similar crash tests last year on supermini and upper medium sector cars - will see fleets basing car choice lists on the test results as well as other key factors such as wholelife costs.

Topping the latest crash tests were the Audi A3, Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf. Edmund King, head of campaigns at the RAC - one of the consortium members - said: 'All three manufacturers which received the top four-star rating have improved on their previous crash tests results, particularly Audi. It is clear the manufacturers are learning and hopefully those manufacturers who are critical will change their attitude. The proof will be in sales.'

Inspecting the crashed cars was Merck transport controller Debbie Fromage, who said she was likely to put the Golf back on her fleet choice list as a direct result of its four-star performance in the crash testing. The vehicle had been removed from the list as a result of too many incidents of vandalism and theft, but she said the NCAP success tipped the balance in its favour. Anne Grainger, fleet controller/ transport manager for Overseas Courier Service, said she also hoped to show drivers the video when they are weighing up vehicle choices. However, she is keen to see crash testing of vans, which make up 75% of her 100-strong fleet.

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