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5 Stars Remain Elusive as Utes Score 2, 3 and 4 Stars - (Australia)

June 3rd, 2008

Recent crash testing by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has demonstrated that more can be done to improve occupant protection in utilities sold in Australia, with a number of utes testing 2, 3 and 4 stars for safety.

ANCAP today released the safety ratings for the Holden Commodore ute, the Mazda BT50 4x4, the Nissan Navara D40 4x4 and the Mahindra Pik-up.

The Commodore ute achieved a 4-star result and also provided a range of safety features – including anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) – as standard.

The Mazda BT50 gained a 3-star rating, the Nissan Navara was awarded a 3-star rating under ANCAP’s sister program EuroNCAP, and the Mahindra Pik-up rated 2 tars out of 5.

ANCAP Chair Lauchlan McIntosh, said the performance of the Commodore ute was a sign that manufacturers could design and build for occupant protection

“We are seeing more and more 4 and 5-star vehicles on the Australian market these days, and we would expect that a utility vehicle should earn a 5-star rating in the near future.”

“Manufacturers are building key safety technologies as standard features in many of their models – and while some utes are definitely safer than they were 5 years ago, more needs to be done.”

“Many are lacking in basic occupant protection, which is an occupational health and safety concern for drivers of these vehicles. Unfortunately these vehicles are also often purchased for family use.”

The Mazda BT50 and the Ford Ranger are based on the same design and are expected to have similar crashworthiness. The frontal offset crash by ANCAP left the passenger compartment severely deformed, with the steering column, dashboard components and park brake lever presenting as potential sources of injury. It only gained a 3-star rating following the tests.

Following a poor result from Euro NCAP, Nissan upgraded the airbag performance of the Navara ute and a retest was conducted.

Nissan Australia advises that the latest 3-star rating from Europe applies to airbag-equipped models on sale in Australia, and that a service campaign is underway to upgrade the airbag software of models already in service. Despite the improved performance, there is still a high risk of serious injury with the retested vehicle. Also of concern, Australian models of the Navara are available without a driver airbag and could be expected to perform worse than the model tested in Europe, where airbags are standard.

The Mahindra Pik-Up, which only rated 2 stars, has minimal safety features and, despite the dual cab configuration that is popular with families, does not include top tether anchorages for child restraints. Under Australian regulations these are optional on this style of vehicle, which can be classified as commercial.

“Mahindra has advised ANCAP it will be providing driver and passenger airbags in 2008 models and the anchorages will be a standard design feature from 2009,” Mr McIntosh said. Other crash test ratings for vehicles tested by EuroNCAP which are sold in Australia are the Fiat 500 fitted with ESC, the Volvo V70 and Peugeot 308 with ESC and knee airbag, which scored 5 stars, and the Fiat 500 without ESC, the Peugeot 308 without ESC or knee airbag and the BMW X3, which scored 4 stars.

Pedestrian test ratings were 3 out of 4 stars for the Peugeot 308, 2 stars for the Volvo V70 and Fiat 500, and 1 star for the Commodore Ute, Mahindra Pik-Up and BMW X3. ANCAP crash tests new vehicles, awards them a star rating for safety and publicises the results to the motoring public.

ANCAP is supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, all Australian state governments, the New Zealand government, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, the Insurance Australia Group and the FIA Foundation. For a full list of ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings, including more commercial vehicles, and other vehicle safety information, go to www.ancap.com.au

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