New Euro NCAP crash tests will make it harder for cars to get the top scoring five stars and they could soon promote the development of external airbags to protect cyclists.
Speaking to whatcar.com, Secretary General of Euro NCAP Michiel van Ratingen said:
'The number of cyclists is increasing in Europe, so we would like to extend the vulnerable road users protection by including cyclists into our programme. This may lead to further improvements such as airbags outside the vehicle in the front pillars.
'I'm hopeful that we will be able to make a ruling within the next two years.'
Van Ratingen also said that Euro NCAP would focus on how new cars could be designed to limit damage to other vehicles in accidents; so-called 'partner protection'.
'We have been criticised again and again for optimising the vehicle only for occupant protection, while making the cars more damaging for other vehicles. That's an area of interest for Euro NCAP as well, to see if we can balance occupant protection versus partner protection.'
New stricter tests
Changes have already been made to Euro NCAP crash tests and are included in new results from mid-February.
For the first time, the overall result combines occupant, child and pedestrian ratings with scores for active safety systems, such as stability control, into one overall star rating.
The inclusion of pedestrian protection results in this way has been resisted by some manufacturers for years, even though Citroen has shown that it's possible to get the top rating by fitting a pop-up bonnet to its C6 luxury car.
Weighting of pedestrian results in the overall rating will become progressively more significant up to 2012, allowing car makers time to develop and adapt car design - something Euro NCAP calls the application of 'smart pressure'.