Star of wonder
It’s a case of five stars good, four stars good enough
THE first car maker to support independent safety testing in Australia has questioned the value of ANCAP star ratings.
Renault, a long-term fivestar brand, now says the Australasian New-Car Assessment Program is going down a blind alley by pursuing a unique local agenda at a time when Australian cars are less and less popular with consumers.
ANCAP downgraded Renault’s coming Captur SUV to four-star safety ranking, despite its five-star result in Europe, because it will not be fitted with rear airbags.
‘‘ I think ANCAP is at risk of misleading Australians,’’ Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar says.
‘‘ They would ask Australians to buy a car that could be of a lower safety standard, yet have a higher airbag count. That’s the shame.
‘‘ We’re asking them to please come and justify, with data from Australia, why they have a right to second-guess EuroNCAP. With fewer and fewer locally made cars, what are they testing? And why would they differ? EuroNCAP crash tests far more vehicles every year than ANCAP.’’
Renault has matching fivestar ratings from NCAP and ANCAP for its Clio city car, which does not have rear airbags. That car was introduced before the 2014 start date for a new ANCAP requirement for five-star cars. It’s part of a safety roadmap that tightens the requirements and demands extra safety equipment for a five-star score in coming years.
Hocevar aims to promote the Captur as a five-star vehicle, regardless of the ANCAP score.
‘‘ From our point of view, the message is clear. We don’t want to mislead anyone,’’ he says. ‘‘( ANCAP) may take a view that the vehicle is downgraded but we will communicate that it’s with the most relevant testing authority.’’
Hocevar also intends to confirm to shoppers that, in common with the Clio, the Captur was designed without rear airbags because they are not needed to achieve five stars.
‘‘ We have not (removed features from) the Captur. It was designed and built with a number of airbags and it achieved the highest possible safety rating. A car with less robust design and construction could have a bunch of airbags and not get five stars. That’s where customers are potentially being misled.’’
Hocevar says he could avoid an ANCAP confrontation by bringing the Captur’s Australian on-sale date forward to the end of this year.
‘‘ I could just stick one on a plane, bring it out and then tell them it’s been launched,’’ Hocevar says. ‘‘ But I’mnot going to put the launch of the vehicle ahead of schedule just to get a better ANCAP score, when I think it’s so misguided.’’
Crunch time: Renault’s Captur gains the top
EuroNCAP rating in May