Three stars and out

Poor safety fea­tures have put the red line through this Chi­nese car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@cars­

CHINA’S Geely brand has taken an­other hit as it strug­gles to get go­ing in Aus­tralia.

Its new small car, the EC7 aimed at ri­valling the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze, has failed to reach the four-star safety score that was set as a min­i­mum for any­thing im­ported for Aus­tralia. Its ar­rival has been put on hold.

‘‘ The min­i­mum four-star crash rat­ing was agreed by both Geely and our­selves be­fore Geely con­ducted the tests,’’ Chi­nese Au­to­mo­tive Dis­trib­u­tors di­rec­tor Rod Gai­ley tells Cars­guide. ‘‘ We in­sisted, and Geely agreed, that we wouldn’t im­port the car un­til it reached a four-star or above crash test rat­ing and un­for­tu­nately it didn’t meet our ex­pec­ta­tions.’’

The com­pany, the national dis­trib­u­tor for Geely and ZX Auto, had planned that the EC7 would be the first car to go national af­ter a toe-in-the-wa­ter ef­fort in its home state, Western Aus­tralia.

Gai­ley seems sur­prised by the three-star score for the EC7 in the first test to Aus­tralasian New-Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram stan­dards. It’s pos­si­ble the body struc­ture of the car is at fault, even though he claims the EC7 is a ‘‘ quan­tum leap’’ ahead of the first Aus­tralian-sold Geely, the MK1.5.

‘‘ Even the EC7 is not en­gi­neered for the ma­ture mar­kets. The EC7, which had pre­vi­ously scored a Euro four-star rat­ing, recorded a sub-four star rat­ing de­spite ad­di­tional safety equip­ment such as elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and six airbags,’’ he says.

Gai­ley says it could take 18-24 months be­fore a new range of mod­els that sat­isfy Aus­tralian de­mands for safety and fea­tures— now in the post-de­sign stage— are avail­able. ‘‘ Geely has told us that the new cars won’t be cheap,’’ Gai­ley says. ‘‘ This will be a new gen­er­a­tion of mod­els that will be more com­pet­i­tive in terms of de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and per­for­mance so I can’t see them be­ing avail­able at the lower end of the price mar­ket.’’

But the Perth com­pany is not giv­ing up. Gai­ley says: ‘‘ We con­tinue to re­main in­volved with Geely, work­ing in part­ner­ship on their fu­ture model plat­forms whilst main­tain­ing sales and ser­vice sup­port for the GeelyMKin Western Aus­tralia.’’

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