BRUSSELS - The European Commission appears ready to fund half the cost of a pan-European program of new-car crash tests.
The EC is backing the Euro-NCAP series of crash tests. Automakers oppose this test because it crashes cars at higher speeds than they are designed for.
For 17 months the EC debated which test program to back. During this period consumer groups decided not to wait for the EC. They launched Euro-NCAP, which they paid for from various sources.
The EC's choice of a crash test came after the influential German, Dutch and Portuguese motor clubs were persuaded to join Euro-NCAP. Previously, these clubs were partners in the rival Euro Crash Test Program, which tested at a lower speed and used different criteria. The clubs were persuaded to change by Euro-NCAP Chairman Max Mosley.
Until now, the EC has funded 50 percent of the Euro Crash Test Program. Euro-NCAP hopes that EC funding will move to its program now that experts and institutions are united around its test protocols.
Jeanne Breene of the Brussels-based European Transport Safety Council said 'the decision to support the scheme has gone forward.'
She said funding at the 50 percent level was most likely. Mosley estimates that each crash test costs about $240,000. By the end of this year Euro-NCAP will have crash-tested eight superminis, 13 upper-medium segment cars and about 12 models in the lower-medium segment.