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Small cars mean big bills

Solid performance: The Ford Falcon Forte is the cheapest car to repair after a low-speed shunt, according to the NRMA.

The latest round of low-speed crash tests conducted by the NRMA yielded some surprising results

15 Feb 2001

SMALL cars are potentially the most expensive to repair in the aftermath of low-speed crashes, according to test results released yesterday by NRMA Insurance.

NRMA Insurance last year subjected more than 30 top-selling Australian cars to its low-speed crash test program to determine the cost of repairing a vehicle after it has suffered a pendulum crash, replicating a 30 km/hour collision into the rear of another vehicle.

NRMA Insurance industry research manager Robert McDonald said the 2000 low-speed crash test results shows design improvements by manufacturers are helping to reduce collision costs.

"As the country's largest general insurer, NRMA Insurance has a strong interest in keeping the cost of collision repairs affordable for all Australians," Mr McDonald said.

"The aim of the low speed crash test program is to work with manufacturers to improve vehicle design. While some design enhancements may largely go unnoticed by vehicle owners, they can have a sizeable impact on the cost of insurance.

"The cheapest small vehicle to repair is the Hyundai Accent, showing a reduction in the total repair costs of around 38 per cent compared to the previous model Hyundai Excel. Structural changes to the bumper bar has resulted in better energy absorption and less car parts being damaged, significantly reducing costs.

"It is surprising to find last year's cheapest car to repair, the Honda Civic, is now the most expensive to repair following a design change which increases the amount of damage from a low speed crash test. This has resulted in car crash test costs increasing on this model by 226 per cent.

"The Ford Falcon Forte has the lowest repair cost in the program and continues to lead the large car class with total repair costs of $2183 - equating to 7.1 per cent of the vehicle purchase price.

"However, results show the Ford Ka, in the small car class, costs $4735 to repair which is more than double the cost of the Ford Falcon Forte.

"As a group, the 4WDs displayed sound damageability and repairability characteristics with the average repair cost percentage of purchase price for this category approximately 15.4 per cent.

"Many people would believe a high performance vehicle, such as the Suburau WRX would be more expensive to repair than average models. In fact, results show it is the cheapest to repair in the small/medium category when comparing the repair cost as a percentage of the purchase price.

"As crash repair costs is one of the major factors that determine the price of a car insurance, NRMA Insurance uses this information to individually rate premiums.

"Without proper consideration at the design stage, it is the car owner who ultimately pays the price through escalating repair costs and insurance premiums. We are working with a number of car manufacturers to reduce repair costs for future models.

"Motorists should consider the cost of repairing a vehicle before they make their purchase as a bargain in the showroom may not be such a good deal when taking the cost of insurance and repairs into account," Mr McDonald said.

Full results of the crash tests are available on the NRMA website at nrma.com.au/insurance/trc.

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