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Foton ute recall prompts safety upgrade

Small fix: Foton distributor Ateco Automotive says a workaround for an incorrectly labelled child restraint in the Tunland ute will benefit all rear-seat passengers.

Child seat fix to include better seatbelt, Foton Tunland distributor says

16 Jun 2014

FOTON is likely to lift the safety of its recently relaunched Tunland utility in response to a recall to fix wrongly labelled child seat restraints on almost 300 dual-cab versions sold in Australia.

The recall notice, posted on the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission website on the weekend, says the ute’s Australian distributor, Ateco Automotive, will ask owners to bring their vehicles back to service centres to remove a sticker that incorrectly identifies under-seat mounts in the dual-cab version of the ute as ISOFIX-compliant.

Ateco Asian brands spokesperson Daniel Cotterill said the distributor was working with the Chinese car-maker on a fix for the problem, identified as a missing top child-seat tether to give three fixing points for an ISOFIX seat instead of the ute’s two.

“The way they (the seat fixtures) were labelled before suggested to people that that was an ISOFIX seat point and they could use it as that, and that’s not the case,” Mr Cotterill said.

“There are two different solutions under development for that one involves a local thing that we’re looking at, and another one is something the Chinese are developing.

“It (a fix) probably won’t be with us until the end of the year, and we’ll probably run with the solution that Foton are doing that involves a three-point centre rear seatbelt, which is a really good thing to have anyway.

“In the meantime, just to tidy up what we inherited from the previous distributor, we need to make sure the cars come back and those points are labelled differently so they’re not ISOFIX.”.

The recall follows on from a separate issue identified with Foton utes in May this year relating to an incorrectly labelled jack that did not meet Australian design rules.

That recall scooped up 318 vehicles.

The Foton Tunland was awarded only three stars out of five after it was tested by Australia’s crash safety watchdog, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, early this year. One of its safety shortcomings was noted as a lap-only sash seatbelt in the centre-rear seat.

“A two-point seat belt is fitted to the centre rear seat. This provides inferior protection compared with a three-point seat belt,” ANCAP’s report on the results of the crash test noted.

“Foton has advised ANCAP that ESC and top tethers are part of a production upgrade planned later in 2013.”

ANCAP is a long-standing critic of poor crash test performances in the light-commercial vehicle segment, where minimum standards behind passenger cars despite many twin-cab utes acting as work vehicles during the week, and family haulers on weekends.

The ANCAP test was on a Tunland dual-cab ute equipped with a driver and passenger’s airbag as standard, as well as electronic stability control that can help the ute recover from a skid.

Foton was relaunched earlier this month after Ateco took over the Chinese brand’s national distribution earlier this year from Queensland-based FAA Automotive Australia.

Ateco has said it intends expanding the Foton truck and trade ute brand in Australia as it makes its play for a slice of the extremely competitive and cluttered market.

Other brands falling under Ateco’s stewardship in Australia include Chinese car-makers Chery and Great Wall.

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