The Renault Zoe has fallen from grace.

One of the more affordable Electric Vehicles brought to market, the Zoe has failed in the latest Euro NCAP tests.

It has been awarded a zero-star safety rating, becoming only the third car in history to be given zero-stars by the organisation.

The big fall

It was previously a five-star car when it was initially launched and tested in 2013. Numerous revisions to the safety testing protocol have since been introduced by Euro NCAP to reflect evolving technology.

Renault facelifted the car last year. In so doing, it removed a side airbag that would protect an occupant’s head in the event of a side impact. This has meant that in the frontal offset crash the Zoe was rated as ‘poor’. This is due to “weak” protection for the chest area of the driver side dummy specifically. But it was Euro NCAP’s severe side pole test that revealed the most drastic results, with the driver’s head directly impacting the intruding pole.


“It is a serious concern to see results like this in 2021, especially from a carmaker who has previously performed well in Euro NCAP testing.” So say Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s chief research strategy officer and Euro NCAP board member.

“Renault was the first to achieve the full five-star rating in 2001, in part because it was also the first to include a combined head and thorax airbag in the Laguna 2. Although this was a new and revolutionary safety measure at the time, today this airbag is available on most modern cars.

“Unfortunately, a conscious decision has been made to remove the head protection from this vital passive safety feature, by the brand that pioneered the use of it. As a result, the safety of occupants within the vehicle has been severely impacted.”

Technical issues

The Renault Zoe is also criticised for lacking active safety technology. Standard features such as Lane Departure Warnings and standard-fit Autonomous Emergency Braking aren’t available.

Avery added: “Drivers should not have to trade off safety for zero emissions”. He goes on to state that saving the planet should not putting yourselves in danger. There are many other options out there, including those by Renault.

“The Clio is an affordable five-star hybrid vehicle that retails at £10,000 less than the Zoe”.

One for the Spring

Dacia, part of the Renault group, is another carmaker to see poor performance.

The Dacia Spring, is a brand-new electric vehicle in the Supermini class. It obtains only a one-star rating, and that’s tests despite being fitted with the airbag removed from the Zoe. However, it still returned a poor performance across all categories. The result is a 49% score for Adult Occupant and 56% for Child Occupant Protection.

Other vehicles included in this round of testing performed better – the BMW iX and Genesis G70 and GV70 receive five-star ratings.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS was one of the best performing vehicles this year. It is 2021’s best for Adult Occupant Protection (96%), along with a very strong Child Occupant Protection score (91%).

Other five-star performers include the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Caddy.

The Fiat 500e and MG Marvel R achieve four stars.