The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has questioned the motives of ANCAP after the safety organisation gave its first-ever zero-star rating to the Mitsubishi Express van due to the “absence of active safety systems”.
According to ANCAP, the Mitsubishi Express, a rebadged Renault Trafic which was released in Australia last year, also delivered marginal performance in physical crash tests and lacks basic safety features consumers have come to expect in a newly released model.
The FCAI hit back at the ANCAP rating, saying the Express’ ‘sister’ vehicle – referring to the Renault Trafic which first went on sale in Europe in 2015 – was assessed by Euro NCAP as a three-star vehicle at the time.
The Renault Trafic has not been tested by ANCAP.
“Euro NCAP and ANCAP claim they are effectively harmonised, however this is not reflected in ANCAP’s actions,” said Tony Weber, Chief Executive of the FCAI. “Alignment with global standards is the best way of ensuring Australians can have the highest vehicle design standards at the lowest possible prices.
“Why is ANCAP spending potentially up to $500,000, which includes taxpayer dollars, to undertake a test on a six-year-old vehicle that has already been assessed by its sister organisation Euro NCAP in 2015? It makes no sense, can send a confused message to Australian car buyer[s], and is not the best use of taxpayer funds.
“The Australian vehicle buyer will understandably be confused at the two different ratings for essentially the same vehicle. It serves no purpose for the customer and it serves no purpose to the industry.”
Weber said that rather than “seeking a headline”, ANCAP would better serve the Australian public by seeking a harmonised adoption of the test and measurement protocols as well as consumer messaging. “This ensures consistency and clarity for everyone concerned,” he added.
ANCAP said that following a full suite of crash tests, physical crash performance of the Express was marginal in areas, with notable risk of serious injury to the chest of the driver in three of the four destructive crash tests (frontal offset, full width frontal and oblique pole tests). A penalty was also applied for potential hard knee contact points for the driver in frontal crashes, and close to the maximum penalty applied for ‘aggressivity’ (the risk of injury to occupants in other vehicles). Further penalties were applied for significant deformation of the side cargo door in side impact and pole tests, creating openings through which partial ejection may be possible.
According to ANCAP, a high risk of neck injury was recorded for the driver in the whiplash test, with passenger whiplash injury risk likely to be higher due to the basic design of the bench seat and head restraints fitted for the two front-row passenger seating positions. The organisation said there is no chest-protecting side airbag fitted on the passenger side, nor is a centre airbag fitted for protection in side crashes. A frontal airbag for the centre passenger seating position is also not offered.
ANCAP said autonomous emergency braking and lane support systems – safety features it claims are routinely fitted to almost all vehicles assessed in recent years – are not offered on the Express, resulting in a Safety Assist score of seven per cent. Scores for Adult Occupant Protection and Vulnerable Road User Protection were also low.
“Mitsubishi recently introduced the Express into our market, but its specifications do not align with today’s safety expectations,” said Carla Hoorweg, Chief Executive of ANCAP.
“Unfortunately, we saw below par performance for protection of occupants and vulnerable road users from the Express, with results lowered even further due to a fundamental lack of active safety systems.”
ANCAP said the zero-star rating will make the Express ineligible for purchase by a wide range of fleets and commercial buyers that have for many years required five-star-rated vehicles.
“The Express’ poor result sends a clear signal to manufacturers and their global parent companies that safety must be prioritised in all segments offered to the Australasian market,” added Hoorweg.
“Safety rating criteria and consumer expectations have evolved, as have manufacturers’ desire and ability to introduce improved levels of safety. We know Mitsubishi can deliver vehicles with high levels of overall safety and a wide range of modern safety technologies and we encourage them to accelerate the introduction of these features into their van product.”