Crunch time for rat­ings

The star safety sys­tem is a worry for Volvo, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE com­pany claim­ing the safest car in Aus­tralia is call­ing for an ur­gent re­view of na­tional safety rat­ings. Volvo says the star-rat­ing sys­tem used by the Aus­tralian New-Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram, which scores ve­hi­cles for crash-test re­sults and fit­ting of ESP sta­bil­ity con­trol, has been over­taken by ad­vanced new sys­tems in the world’s safest cars.

It wants recog­ni­tion of the sort of elec­tronic driver-as­sis­tance sys­tems fit­ted to its lat­est XC60 — which it claims sets a new safety stan­dard for Aus­tralia — and the forth­com­ing BMW 7 Se­ries and Mercedes-Benz E Class.

All have break­through new sys­tems — the XC has radar crash avoid­ance for city traf­fic, the 7 can recog­nise speed signs and the E warns drowsy driv­ers— which go well be­yond the cur­rent ANCAP tests and rat­ings.

‘‘It’s my opin­ion that we need to have an­other think about the star sys­tem,’’ Volvo Cars Aus­tralia head Alan Des­selss says. ‘‘There is no doubt that it’s a good cause, and a very im­por­tant cause, but at the end of the day if they want to give cus­tomers what they want and not just tick boxes they need to move on.

‘‘A five-star rat­ing for some­thing like the XC60 is prob­a­bly un­jus­ti­fied. It gets the same star rat­ing, and I don’t mean to den­i­grate the prod­uct, as a Hyundai or a Mit­subishi Lancer. It’s just not right.

‘‘The pub­lic could think that five stars on one car is equal to five stars on an­other car, and that’s not right.’’

Des­selss wants ANCAP to start looking be­yond its crash tests and fur­ther than the ESP sta­bil­ity con­trol now es­sen­tial for a five-star safety rat­ing, to as­sess a ‘‘real’’ safety rank­ing.

He says it should start by looking at dif­fer­ent brands’ sta­bil­ity-con­trol sys­tems.

‘‘Take ESP, or DTSC as we call it. I be­lieve it’s dif­fer­ent on dif­fer­ent cars,’’ he says.

‘‘What’s hap­pened now is that peo­ple just put on an ESP sys­tem be­cause it’s the only way they can get five stars.’’

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