Three stars and out
Poor safety features have put the red line through this Chinese car
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.’’