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Crash and burn: Ford's Courier hits the ANCAP barrier.

Ford boss casts doubt over the credibility of Australia's crash-test program

28 Apr 2006

THE Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has a credibility problem, according to Ford Australia president Tom Gorman.

He identified recent protocol changes that had impacted on the ANCAP score of Ford’s Courier as sending mixed messages to consumers.

The utility was marked down from three to two stars because of the changes. As a result, Mr Gorman claimed the program’s credibility as a reliable consumer source was affected.

"If you change protocols so frequently you lack legitimacy and credibility with the marketplace," he said. "You don’t want manufacturers coming out and complaining.

"You create confusion in the market.

"I think what NCAP would want is certainty in the market."ANCAP has recently moved to test vehicles when they are released on to the market in an attempt to make its results more current, a moved welcomed by car-makers.

"Testing a vehicle as it changes makes more sense to me because that gives the consumer new information," Mr Gorman said.

Ford Australia was annoyed that its Courier utility was marked down in last month’s ANCAP testing from three stars to two, purely because of a change in testing protocols.

Ford will release a new-generation Courier later this year, which is presumably safer than the existing model.

Its ANCAP concerns were the latest in a line of complaints about the organisation’s crash-testing methodology.

General Motors division Chevrolet recently criticised Euro NCAP procedures (which mirror ANCAP) over its handling of the Aveo sedan – sold as the Holden Barina in Australia – because it managed a "poor" two-star rating. Holden was also critical of the procedure, disagreeing with the methodology which it claimed was inconsistent with its own crash-test results.

Mr Gorman said ANCAP needed credibility to be accepted, citing the high consumer credibility of North American organisation Consumer Reports, which tests consumer goods (including cars) for the US market.

"People go to Consumer Reports before they buy their vehicle," he said.

The organisation had built a reputation as a reliable source, he said.

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