Safety is the one is­sue we can’t com­pro­mise on

Auto Express - - This Week - GRA­HAM HOPE Ed­i­tor Gra­ham_hope@den­

AS the eyes of Bri­tain’s mo­torists were fo­cused on Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond’s lat­est as­sault on diesel driv­ers last Wed­nes­day (more on that on Page 16), it was easy to miss another story of ar­guably more far-reach­ing sig­nif­i­cance.

Down in South Africa, the re­sults of the first-ever crash test pro­gramme con­ducted by Global NCAP in con­junc­tion with AA South Africa were pub­lished.

Here in Europe, we’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to the work of Euro NCAP, whose test­ing regime has un­doubt­edly pro­duced safer cars for us all to en­joy over the decades. Mer­ci­fully, other parts of the world are fi­nally catch­ing up.

But those first re­sults from Cape Town didn’t make for pretty read­ing. Among the five cars as­sessed, which ac­counted for 65 per cent of new car sales in South Africa last year, were the Dat­sun GO+, awarded one star for adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion, and the Ch­ery QQ3 (above), shame­fully given no stars, with the ve­hi­cle struc­ture rated “un­sta­ble”.

To suc­ceed in de­vel­op­ing mar­kets, mak­ers have to build ve­hi­cles to a bud­get. That’s a given. But what I can’t ac­cept is that this has to com­pro­mise the safety of own­ers. Yet we’ve seen re­sults like this be­fore in South Amer­ica, and now the prob­lem is ap­par­ent in Africa. Surely that’s un­ac­cept­able in 2017?

The car in­dus­try is be­com­ing more glob­alised – at the Frank­furt Mo­tor Show I chat­ted to the R&D boss of the QQ3’S maker Ch­ery, who talked about his brand’s de­sire to ex­tend its in­flu­ence in all re­gions. But ev­ery maker op­er­at­ing glob­ally has a min­i­mum re­spon­si­bil­ity to ev­ery cus­tomer ev­ery­where: to keep them safe. A life is a life, af­ter all, whether buy­ers are in Bev­erly Hills, Birm­ing­ham or Bangladesh. Here in Bri­tain, we’re lucky (although diesel driv­ers may not feel that way at the mo­ment) be­cause our cars are in­her­ently safe. It’s time ev­ery driver across the world was able to say the same.

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