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ANCAP defends testing affordable, not premium cars

Crash bang: A Porsche Macan (left) does not have an ANCAP rating despite receiving a Euro NCAP rating in 2014, but the Kia Picanto (below) has been tested twice.

Kia Picanto tested twice, but Porsche Macan goes without ANCAP test

16 May 2018

THE Australasian New Car Assessment Program’s (ANCAP) chief executive James Goodwin has defended twice testing the Kia Picanto and Holden Commodore, while having never acquired more premium offerings such as the BMW X5 or Porsche Macan to assess in Australia.
As part of its ‘audit’ program, ANCAP occasionally makes a taxpayer-funded purchase of a vehicle it believes should be crashed twice into a barrier for a variety of reasons. 
In the case of the Picanto it was due to differing Euro NCAP and Asian-market scores, and for the Commodore it owed to different engines compared with the Euro NCAP score derived from the closely related Opel Insignia.
ANCAP has maintained that its program focuses on the top-selling vehicles in Australia, however, last year the sub-$15K Picanto sold 3323 units – and in its previous generation lacked autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that has now become standard –  while the circa-$100K Macan sold 2478 units and is yet to be tested and lacks AEB.
Mr Goodwin admitted that without manufacturer support the ANCAP budget could not extend to purchasing the most expensive vehicles, however he denied that elitism was involved in the testing criteria and insisted that 95 per cent of current vehicles on the market have an ANCAP rating.
“We are actually a not-for-profit organisation with very limited funds,” he told GoAuto at an event at the federal government-funded Crashlab in Sydney last week.
“So with more money, we’d be out there doing that (testing more premium cars). And now that we’re fully aligned with Euro NCAP, we can work closer together to manage both organisations’ limited funds. (But) there’s an interesting statistic that, of 369 vehicle models currently on sale in Australia, 100 of those make up 89 per cent of vehicle sales
“So picking off the 269 that remain, they don’t even account for 10 per cent of vehicle sales. I think we are always about the volume sellers and making sure consumers have the choice in that segment. I would love to have 100 per cent fleet coverage.
“The only thing stopping us having 100 per cent fleet coverage is funding and manufacturer support from some of those very high-end luxury premium vehicles like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. 
“But the reality is not too many people are buying those based on its safety features. People should still use the model that we use to assess a vehicle. So at least we’re providing guidance to consumers to what to look for … because safety shouldn't be a luxury.”
Asked whether, regardless of sales, the Picanto and Commodore get targeted by ANCAP because they are readily available, yet Porsche decline to offer vehicles to ANCAP despite selling a premium SUV to families without AEB, Mr Goodwin said that the lack of such equipment in the Macan was “not acceptable”.
“You shouldn’t be making do with technology that is now standard on a $15,000 vehicle in that sort of price point,” he continued.
“But how do we lead that charge? Well, it needs to be consumer driven. Consumers need to know that they should be getting that and hopefully ANCAP can help do that job even if we don’t have a rating. I think we need to start putting more pressure on (them) and, we have been using Porsche as an example, but let’s look at Tesla. Let’s look at many others. 
“Twenty-five years ago we were talking about Holden, and Ford, and Toyota resisting ANCAP and resisting putting the latest and best safety features into their vehicles. So I think it’s great to see that in the 25 years, we’ve now moved from talking about the very ordinary, everyday cars to now think, 
‘We should be thinking much more about those exotic and premium vehicles.’”
With the Holden Commodore re-test, however, ANCAP purchased two V6-engined all-wheel drive liftbacks at a total taxpayer cost of more than $80,000 (see separate story) – yet a single Macan is priced from $80,110 plus on-road costs.
Mr Goodwin also said that the age of the Macan and also the X5, both of which are late in their lifecycle, meant testing the models now was not practical.
ANCAP’s Euro NCAP partner did, however, deliver a rating for the Macan in 2014, but the data was not used locally. It achieved five stars and 88 per cent/87 per cent for the front and side impact tests, however just 60 per cent for pedestrian protection and 66 per cent for active safety technology. 
It could be awarded no higher than three stars in today’s scoring criteria where the overall result must be no higher than the lowest score in a respective discipline. However, where the Porsche premium SUV will not be re-scored for Australia, a half-the-price two-door Ford Mustang coupe will this year.
The Mustang, which was awarded a shock two-star rating in late 2015, will now move to a three-star rating after the imminent facelifted model improved its pedestrian score to 78 per cent (eclipsing a Macan) and its active safety technology score to 60 per cent.
Meanwhile a quadruple-the-price Porsche 911 will also escape testing despite figuring the same 2+2-seat format as the Ford and also lacking AEB as standard.
While it is not mandatory for Australian original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to submit vehicles to ANCAP, in the 2016-17 financial year 28 tests were funded by brands (worth $1.02 million) while 31 were funded by ANCAP at a taxpayer funded $708,477 total cost. Meanwhile Euro NCAP added 193 tests worth $6.41m that were then appropriated for Australia.
Over the next five years, ANCAP’s annual budget has been increased from $1.1m to $1.3m.

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