C-NCAP Certification for the Chinese Automotive Industry

The constant media squabble over C-NCAP (China New Car Assessment Program) doesn’t annoy Mr Zhao Hang at all. As the Chief Director of China Automotive Technology Research Centre (CATARC), Zhao has paid a great deal of efforts to develop this program, a vehicle crash test known as “Chinese new car safety evaluation standard”. “Safety, environmental friendliness and energy saving, we need to have them all,” he said.

Big Brother of the automotive industry

CATARC was originally a research institute directly belonged to government departments, but now it has become a state-owned enterprise to make its own decisions. Apart from assisting in setting automotive industry policies, CATARC also conducts research in a few core automotive technologies, such as partnering with Tianjin FAW Xiali Motor, Hafei Automobile Group and Yunnan Hongta Group to develop alternative energy cars.

“For every aspect of China’s automotive industry, we all have a corresponding service institution. This includes pre-production tasks such as project establishment, factory site selection and factory construction planning, and production related processes such as auto products, standards, information, testing, certification, quality system establishment and staff training. We also get involved in market establishment, second-hand car market, automotive finance, car rental and vehicle scrap recycling,” said Zhao.

The C-NCAP

Although CATARC has such a wide-ranging function, most people currently are interested in its C-NCAP crash test. This controversial test was launched two years ago, and there have been many supporters as well as critics. Controversy is actually what Zhao has hoped for, and he even doesn’t mind posting negative media comments onto CATARC’s official website. The fact that many automotive companies are interested in C-NCAP and asking for trial tests, has demonstrated that C-NCAP results do have some market merit.

NCAP, or New Car Assessment Program, originated from the US in 1

970s, and it became further recognised in developed countries such as Japan, Europe and Australia in the 90s. a common feature of NCAP is that all the test cars have to be bought from the market, ie, assessable by ordinary consumers. It is an independent test for the benefit of consumers, without the intervention from automotive producers.

“The automotive industry in China is big, but few people really understand cars. Common criteria such as engine displacement, inside space and door numbers don’t really matter, what’s important is how safe when you are sitting in the car.” Zhao suggested that the creation of C-NCAP is to provide star ratings on safety, so that there can be a standard for consumers to choose cars. The chief purpose of conducting C-NCAP tests is to prompt vehicle producers to upgrade their technologies and improve car safety.

“C-NCAP is a new car assessment program, not just a new car SAFETY assessment program. We do have to go through crash tests initially, but then we add up other results to establish a systematic evaluation standard for new cars, including safety, displacement and oil consumption tests.” Zhao said that as China is a large energy user with insufficient energy supply, and for the environmental consideration as well, it is necessary to conduct displacement and oil consumption tests in the Program.

Industry recognition

C-NCAP can become a guideline for Chinese automotive manufacturers, said Zhao. “Many manufacturers are now designing products for the next 5 or 10 years by referring to C-NCAP. For example, once fuel consumption limits of passenger cars are given, product designers have to follow these limits. In addition, C-NCAP’s analytical results, which are based on existing road and traffic accident statistics, will also serve for future standards setting, so this could also be guidance for manufacturers.”

A cooperative deal with PICC (People’s Insurance Company of China), China’s largest property insurer, was another successful initiative by CATARC. Last year, a vehicle safety crash test laboratory sponsored by PICC was opened, and PICC had also provided US$2 million to C-NCAP as crash test funds. For an independent assessment institution like CATARC, its cooperation partners have to be without vested interests, so the country’s number 1 insurer could be an ideal partner.

Despite being an incorporated entity, CATARC is not really run like a company, as many of its projects are non-for-profit in nature. At the same time it still has to pay for its own operating expenses. The government has set a limit on CATARC’s profits, whose excessive components have to be retained for future projects or public causes. So the cooperation with PICC did give CATARC some funding relief.

What kind of vehicle certification system does China need?

Zhao said that there are significant differences between China’s certification system and those internationally, in terms of methodologies and organisational management. “China has not yet had a truly formal certification system. The existing rules can only be called ‘access system’, which only determines whether a particular car model is allowed to enter the market. While in developed countries, government certifications are built around the three major criteria, namely safety, environmental friendliness and energy saving.”

Take the example of safety. China has more than 100,000 traffic death tolls and about 1 million injuries. There are only about 200 Chinese cities with more than 1 million population each, so the casualty number is equivalent to eliminating a medium Chinese city every year. Therefore it is an urgent task for regulators to solve vehicle safety problems and improve auto product qualities.

CATARC plans and drafts national vehicle standards in China. Zhao suggested that China do have good and enough standards, but not enough when it comes to execution. And there are rules to follow, but not followed strictly. “Market competition cannot be in the absence of monitoring. Low price competition has now become a major problem in China’s automotive industry, as many manufacturers try to reduce costs by jerry-building. Such vicious competition is harmful to the industry. Many vehicle models can pass quality certification when they are in the factory, but not the case when they go to the outside market. If a certified product is not the one sold to consumers, what’s the use of certification?” said Zhao.

“Therefore, it is not enough for the automotive industry to just have an access system, and too many certification programs will not be helpful, either. We need to strictly monitor basic aspects, such as vehicle safety, environmental friendliness and energy saving, but leave other tasks to the market and consumers. This could be a really effective and realistic method for the industry,” Zhao concluded.

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iPod Integration in the Top Ten Automotive Technologies of the Decade

It’s amazing how far reaching MP3 technology has become since the introduction of the iPod in 2003. Apple’s vision of the iPod has truly extended to just about anything consumers can imagine. We can play our iPods anywhere. At home, at the gym, on a hike and in the car. But it’s the car stereo application that seems to have fallen short for consumers. But its not Apple’s fault. They foresaw the OEM car stereo application when they first introduced the iPod and even approached Alpine Electronics, the OEM car stereo maker for a huge majority of vehicles you see on the road. They wanted to collaborate with Alpine to integrate the iPod with the factory car stereo’s so that consumers could enjoy having their iPods on the road. It raised the a big question, “wouldn’t that kill the CD changer market?”. The honest answer was yes. The short story is the cry that came back from the manufacturers of the CD changer was too big and the result is consumers are today left with the poor fidelity options of FM modulation, cassette adapters and 3.5mm jacks. Fear not however, because this isn’t the only option anymore.

Earlier this year Edmunds.com named iPod Integration in their Top Ten automotive technologies of the Decade. “We’ve come a long way from carrying around bulky multi-CD cases. Today drivers can bring along all their favorite music with a device that fits in a pocket and can be integrated with most vehicles.” – Automotive Industries, Jan2010, Vol. 190 Issue 1, p53-53. And it’s not as expensive as you might think. But let’s explain how it works first.

iPod and iPhone Car Modules Play HIGH QUALITY music from your iPod and iPhone HARDWIRED through various available ports of your vehicles factory car stereo (ie: CD changer port) creating a truly integrated iPod Car Stereo. One of the most innovative and simple to install and use integration solutions is from DICE Electronics. Read what Stephen Witt, Dice Electronics new VP of Marketing has to say. Steve is the former VP of marketing at Alpine Electronics and was there when the struggle of integrating the iPod with factory car stereo’s began.

“In today’s digital world, consumers want a simple plug and play and cost effective integration solution for their cars. Everyone wants easy to understand value that will work in their cars. This “keep it simple” consumer behavior plays right into our strategy of promoting the complete solution integration including the connector to hook up their iPod/iPhone.” – Stephen Witt EVP, Dice Electronics

Here is a list of the features and benefits of installing a iPod/iPhone Car Stereo Integration Module:

Hard-wired Connection
Seamless Connectivity with CD Quality Music
No Cassette Adapters
No Bulky FM Transmitter
Stereo Head-Unit Control
Music Control at Your Fingertips
Album/Artist Text Display
Album/Artist Information at a Glance
Constant Charging
Keeps Your iPod Charged on the go!
No Cigarette Lighter Charger
Steering Wheel Control
Easily Change Tracks and adjust volume
Keeps Your Hands Safely on the Wheel
Bluetooth Connectivity (optional)
Allows Hands-Free Calling
Music is Paused or Silenced When Answering Calls
Incoming Calls are Heard Over the Speakers
Vehicle-ignition-controlled playback
Music automatically pauses when ignition is off and resumes when ignition is turned back on

iPod or iPhone factory stereo integration module are available at http://www.mypodcarkit.com today.

Get Under the Hood of an Automotive Technology Career

For those of you who are tired of getting your auto fix by continuously customizing and modifying your own car, or gluing yourselves to TV shows like “American Choppers” or “Pimp my Ride”, there are ways to expand — automotive technology could be a lucrative career instead of just a way of letting the day speed by on the couch.

Automotive technology schools provide students with the possibility of blending their technical and creative passions together. Your interest in design, form, color, and presentation can be satisfied along with your desire to problem solve, tinker, experiment, and work with ever-evolving technology and science.

According to the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, professional automotive technicians can earn $60,000 or more per year with the appropriate training — and with good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pros in the field are in demand, with over 800,000 automotive technicians employed as of 2004. As the number of multi-car families continues to increase, job opportunities for automotive technicians are expected to grow as well.

An automotive technician career isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago, and as a result automotive technology schools have had to update their curriculum accordingly. With global positioning systems, Internet access, and alternate-fuel systems among the many increasingly common technological advancements found in cars, students at automotive technology schools cannot complete their training without knowledge in these fields. In fact, according to the College Board, more automotive technology schools are now even offering courses in stress management and customer service.

Not that automotive technology should be a stressful job — to the contrary, a successful automotive technician is one who is passionate about his or her career. But let’s face it, cars are a big part of the way we live and keeping them on the road is no small task. According to the Center for Automotive Research, by the year 2000, there were about 217 million vehicles on the road in the U.S., traveling 2.5 trillion miles, and consuming 160 billion gallons of gasoline. So sure, the job can get a little stressful at times — which is why an automotive technology career relies on education during crunch time.

Once you’ve received your training from an automotive technology school, certification is the only thing standing between you and your career. Voluntary certification by ASE is the standard credential in the automotive industry. Your certification will be in a specialty field of your choice, of which there are eight. These include electrical systems, engine repair, brake systems, suspension and steering, and heating and air-conditioning. Master automobile technicians are certified in all eight areas .