Eight of Britain's top 10 best-selling cars offer five-star Euro NCAP rating, but standard fitment of autonomous emergency braking is available on only half of them.
Analysis by independent safety experts Thatcham Research confirms that five of the current Top 10 UK best-sellers now offer some level of AEB fitment as standard, although only one has the crash prevention technology on every model and trim level in its range.
AEB has been shown to reduce low-speed crashes by up to 40% by automatically braking to avoid a collision with another car or a pedestrian, if the driver hasn’t responded.
The technology is not available at all on more than half of all new cars (52%) on sale in the UK and the best-selling models need to be setting an example to change this, according to Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research.
He said: “It is right to acknowledge the achievements of car makers in providing us with safe cars that offer excellent protection in the event of a crash, with eight of the top 10 best-sellers having Euro NCAP five-star ratings.
"However, preventing the crash from happening in the first place now must be the focus and that starts with having AEB as standard.
"Prioritising fitment to the best-sellers will make the biggest contribution to reducing the number of crashes on our roads, as well as encouraging other car makers to follow suit.”
The Mercedes C-Class has AEB as standard across its entire range, while Thatcham said the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai also have commendable levels of standard fitment (83% and 71% respectively) and optional availability on most other trim levels.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Vauxhall Corsa – the UKs second best-selling car – is not available with AEB and the best-seller, the Ford Fiesta, offers the technology only as an optional extra, and this on only just over half of the model range.
“With combined sales of the Fiesta and Corsa totalling more than 100,000 in the first six months of this year alone, there’s a great opportunity to provide standard fit crash prevention for the masses,” said Shaw.
Superminis are likely choices of car for young, inexperienced drivers who are 26 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Yet, the size and price of a car do not have to be barriers to AEB fitment, said Shaw.
“Honda has shown that standard fit AEB safety at supermini price level is achievable, with the new Jazz having it across the entire range,” he added.
Shorter model replacement cycles may make it easier for car makers to upgrade their safety offer and Thatcham Research believes that they must take more advantage of these opportunities.
“The new Fiesta is expected next year and gives Ford the opportunity to redress the balance by making AEB standard,” said Shaw.
“And having already shown with the Astra that it recognises the value of the technology, Vauxhall should be targeting at least a similar level of fitment on all future versions of its other models.”
Thatcham Research is calling on all car makers to embrace the highest levels of active safety technology.
Shaw added: “Vehicle manufacturers could choose to publicly commit to making AEB standard by 2022 on all new cars sold in the UK. Twenty of the best-known car brands have already done exactly that in the United States and we’d welcome the same commitment in the UK.”
The UK’s Most Popular Cars Ranked by AEB safety
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class: AEB system name: Collision Prevention Assist Plus. Fitted as standard
- Volkswagen Golf AEB system name: Front Assist Including City Emergency Braking. Fitted as standard to 83% of trim levels within model range. Not available as an optional extra.
- Nissan Qashqai AEB System name: Forward Emergency Braking. Fitted as standard to 71% of trim levels within model range. Available as part of the optional ‘Safety Shield’ safety pack for £495
- Ford Focus AEB System name: Active City Stop. Fitted as standard to 37% of trim levels within model range. Available as a stand-alone option for £200
- Vauxhall Astra AEB system name: Forward Collision Alert with Automatic City Emergency Braking. Fitted as standard to 34% of trim levels within model range. Available as part of the optional ‘Driving Assistance’ pack, priced £565 - £795
- Mini AEB system name: Driving Assistant. Available as part of the optional ‘Driving Assistant’ pack for £440
- Volkswagen Polo AEB system name: City Emergency Braking. Available as part of the optional ‘ACC’ pack for £395
- Ford Fiesta AEB system name: Active City Stop. Available as a stand-alone option for £200
- Vauxhall Mokka No AEB system available
- Vauxhall Corsa No AEB system available
Vehicles are ranked according to the percentage of trim levels within that model range having AEB as standard, followed by optional availability rates.