Plain ute force and ignorance
Some of our utes aren’t so beaut for safety, writes GRAHAMSMITH
UTE manufacturers have been urged to lift their game and improve occupant protection after the dismal crash-test performance of some popular models sold here.
In the latest round of the Australian New Car Assessment Program, several utes managed only two or three stars. The Holden Commodore ute, achieving four out of five stars.
The Mazda BT50 4x4 and the Nissan Navara D40 4x4 got three stars overall but, in the poorest result, the Indian-built Mahindra Pik-up managed only two.
The Navara’s result was based on the EuroNCAP result.
That is not good enough, according to the Australian Automobile Association and the Melbourne-based RACV.
The AAA praised the Commodore ute for having anti-skid brakes, electronic brake distribution and electronic stability control as standard.
ANCAP chair Lauchlan McIntosh says the Commodore ute’s performance was proof manufacturers could design and build for occupant protection.
‘‘We are seeing more and more four and five-star vehicles on the Australian market these days, and we would expect that a utility vehicle should earn a five-star rating in the near future,’’ he says.
However, McIntosh says many lack basic occupant protection features.
‘‘Unfortunately, these vehicles are often purchased for family use,’’ he says.
The Mazda BT50 and the Ford Ranger are based on the same design and are expected to have similar crash-worthiness.
In the frontal offset crash, the BT50’s passenger compartment was severely deformed and the steering column, dashboard components and park brake lever were potential sources of injury.
After Navara’s poor Euro NCAP results, Nissan modified the software controlling the deployment of its airbag and retested it.
Nissan Australia says the latest three-star rating from Europe applies to airbag-equipped models on sale here. It says a service campaign to upgrade the models here has started.
Nissan has sent letters to all Navara owners, asking them to return their vehicles to their dealer for rework.
‘‘Everyone should have received their letters by now,’’ Nissan spokesman Jeff Fisher says. The job takes about an hour. Isuzu, maker of the Rodeo sold in Australia by Holden, is investigating its EuroNCAP results.
The Mahindra Pik-Up has minimal safety features and despite a dual-cab configuration 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 standard feature from next year,’’ McIntosh says.
Star performer: the Holden Commodore achieved four out of five stars in the ANCAP safety tests.
Crunch time: Nissan Navaras have been recalled for new work.