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ESC installation to count in NCAP Star Rating

11 February 2009

An increasing number of new cars on sale in the UK are equipped with life-saving electronic stability control (ESC) - but there remains a long way to go before fitment is 100%.

Now, new figures from the Choose ESC campaign reveal that the ESC installation rate on new cars registered in Europe increased from 50% in 2007 to 53% in the first half of 2008.

But, in the UK installation rates increased above the European average. The figures reveal that in the UK 56% of all new cars registered in the first half of last year were equipped with ESC compared with 48% in the whole of 2007. That means that since 2003 installation rates have almost tripled from 20%.

However, there remains a number of ‘blackspots’ where ESC is not fitted. This is primarily due to the technology either not being available at all on cheaper models or only available as an option.

For example, superminis account for a third of all UK new car registrations. But, ESC was only fitted as standard on 9% of vehicles registered in the first half of last year and an added option on a further 5%. That means 86% of superminis registered in the first six months of last year are taking to the road without ESC.

The picture is even worse in the city car sector, which accounts for 6% of all new cars sold in the UK , where 89% of models registered in the first half of last year were without ESC.

Among executive and luxury cars the technology is fitted as standard across the board. However, moving down to lower medium and upper medium sector models and fitment rates in the first six months of last year were 63% and 84% respectively. The lower medium sector account for the largest proportion of new car registrations in the UK (39%).

Euro NCAP’s latest crash test ratings for new models will be published on February 19 and it will be impossible for a model to be rewarded with five stars unless 85% of its range is equipped with ESC as standard. That figure will rise to 90% in 2010, 95% in 2011 and 100% in 2012.

Safety expects say that ESC is the most significant life-saving technology since the introduction of the seat-belt.

Department for Transport research suggests that vehicles equipped with ESC are 25% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those without it. That equates to 380 fatal crashes and the reduction of injuries to 7,800 people a year.