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Mercedes-Benz has today congratulated the Victorian government’s decision to amend its current rules governing the types of cars young and probationary licence-holders are allowed to drive.
The changes will allow young Victorian ‘P-Plate’ drivers access to some of the safest modern cars available in Australia today, many of which were previously deemed ‘High Performance Vehicles’ (HPVs) because they were fitted with a turbo- or supercharger.
The issue has been an important one for Mercedes-Benz as it has prevented many of its customers’ children from driving their cars, vehicles which are widely regarded as world-leading products in terms of safety.
Cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C 200 KOMPRESSOR sedan, the most popular model in the Australian Mercedes catalogue, were deemed ‘high performance’ under the regulations due to the fitment of a supercharger to its 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. This was despite the fact its maximum power output is 135kW.
Efficient for its size, the C 200 KOMPRESSOR’s engine is only half the size of that fitted to a V6-powered Holden Commodore family car, and produces 23 percent less power.
The use of forced engine induction methods such as turbo- or supercharging in cars like the Mercedes-Benz C 200 KOMPRESSOR has been employed to improve fuel consumption and exhaust emissions and not for the purpose of ultra-high engine power levels.
Mercedes-Benz argued the engine power levels for many of its cars were not ‘high performance’ and not of the magnitudes often found in specialist sports and racing cars, and highlighted that many of its biggest-selling models offered young drivers potentially life-saving safety equipment during a critical learning phase of their driving careers.
It was argued the regulations denied them access to important safety equipment such as Electronic Stability Programme ESP®, multiple airbags and advanced safety technologies such as PRE-SAFE®, a Mercedes-Benz invention which anticipates a car accident and prepares the car for maximum safety before any impact.
The President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, Mr Wolfgang D Schrempp and the managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars in Australia, Mr Horst von Sanden, have jointly commended Tim Pallas MP, The Victorian Minister for Roads and Ports, for his leadership in implementing amended rules and arrangements for Probationary Drivers Licence holders who drive larger family-type vehicles.
“Mercedes-Benz has made strong representations to Minister Pallas that the regulations excluded some of the safest cars in the world from young drivers,” said Schrempp.
“In concert with the Technical committee of The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries we presented our case that many low-boost turbocharged and supercharged vehicles did not pose a safety threat to young drivers.
“In fact the safety, fuel economy and emissions credentials of many previously banned vehicles were amongst the best in the world.
“We congratulate and commend minister Pallas for his progressive and logical approach to the very real issue of road trauma involving young drivers. His acknowledgement that some of the safest cars available will no longer be denied to young drivers at the most fragile time of their driving career is a significant advance of public policy “said Schrempp.
Minister Pallas has announced that the new arrangements would allow Probationary Driver’s Licence holders to apply for exemptions to drive to drive safer, lower-performance turbocharged or supercharged cars with greater fuel-efficiency.
The move brings Victoria into line with other Australian states, with VicRoads to continue to work with NSW and Queensland authorities to develop and maintain a consistent set of criteria.
VicRoads will facilitate exemption permits to be granted by letter, upon application, for the following vehicle types:
The Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars in Australia, Mr Horst von Sanden, said: “Mercedes-Benz takes road safety seriously and has been a safety pioneer since we invented the motor car in 1886.
“On this very important matter Minister Pallas has meaningfully engaged with the car industry and taken on board our concerns around the banned vehicle categories.
“We are very pleased that the Victorian Government has taken the very reasonable position of recognising that some turbocharged and supercharged vehicles that could not, in good conscience, be classified as HPVs will now be granted exemptions, and that true HPVs will continue to be banned for young and probationary drivers.
“This is an important road safety initiative by the Victorian Minister and we acknowledge his strong advocacy with his NSW and Queensland colleagues to develop and maintain a consistent and relevant set of criteria for HPVs,” concluded von Sanden.
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