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ANCAP: Airbag fail triggers Hyundai recall

Torn airbag discovered in NCAP crash tests prompted Hyundai to recall Santa Fe

5 Dec 2018

THE Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has revealed that a safety recall initiated this month by Hyundai for its latest Santa Fe large SUV was triggered by European NCAP crash tests in which a side curtain airbag failed to deploy properly after it tore on a mounting bolt and then became caught on a seatbelt anchorage.
The vehicle, which went on sale in Australia in July this year, has belatedly received a five-star safety rating from ANCAP after the company initiated a production fix and recall for the vehicle and resubmitted a modified car for re-testing.
Although the airbag did not tear in the repeat tests, it still became caught on the C-pillar seatbelt upper mount and failed to deploy as intended, resulting in one-point penalties being applied to both the side impact and oblique pole tests.
Instead of an excellent 37.89 points out of a possible 38 for adult occupant protection, the result slipped to 35.89 points or 94 per cent – still well within five-star territory.
The Santa Fe was one of four vehicles to get five-star ratings in the latest round of results issued by ANCAP, based on Euro NCAP analysis.
Others to come up trumps were the all-new Ford Focus, Jaguar I-Pace and Genesis G70.
The problem with the Santa Fe surfaced publicly in Australia on November 8 when Hyundai Motor Company Australia posted a safety recall notice on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recall website.
The notice – affecting 666 TM Santa Fe SUVs distributed in Australia to that point – said a mounting bolt on the curtain airbag might interfere with the airbag’s fabric in deployment.
“Some vehicles may experience rear side curtain airbag cushion damage when the airbag is deployed,” it said. “The mounting bolt may damage the airbag fabric in the event of deployment. The airbag may not provide optimum protection, and may cause serious injury to the rear occupant.”
The fix apparently involves placing a protective cover over the offending bolt.
Now, ANCAP has confirmed that it informed Australian safety authorities of the airbag failure.
Images of the Santa Fe crash tests released by ANCAP show that the crash testing was done by affiliate organisation Euro NCAP at independent tester UTAC Ceram’s crash-test facilities.
It is customary for representatives of motor companies to attend NCAP crash tests as observers, and Hyundai representatives would have been immediately alerted to the problems with the airbag.
ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin said engineers had identified two issues with the deployment of the curtain airbag in Santa Fe models fitted with a panoramic roof, with the airbag tearing and a portion of the airbag being caught on the upper belt anchorage.
“Penalties were applied to scoring of the side impact and oblique pole tests to reflect the increased head injury risk,” he said.
“ANCAP notified the Australian vehicle standards regulator of the issue, resulting in a national recall to remedy models already in service. A production change has been implemented by Hyundai for new models.”
Mr Goodwin said that as the seven-seat SUV also lacked top-tether anchorages for third-row seating positions, child restraints could not be fitted to that row.
But he singled out the Santa Fe for praise for its innovative new child occupant detection device that alerts the driver when leaving the car if a rear seat occupant is detected, thus reducing the chance of a baby or young child being left in an unattended vehicle.
“It is encouraging to see vehicle brands incorporate innovative new safety features,” he said.
Mr Goodwin said the new Focus small car scored well, getting maximum points for child occupant protection testing.
He praised the Focus for including rear automatic braking as well as forward automatic braking.
ANCAP awarded five stars to all variants of Jaguar’s new all-electric I-Pace.
“The I-PACE is one of only a few models to offer an external airbag, which is designed to provide increased protection to pedestrians,” Mr Goodwin said.
The new Genesis G70’s otherwise good rating was blighted by a “poor” rating for rear passenger pelvis protection in the full-width crash test and marginal ratings for driver protection in the oblique pole test and whiplash test.
“The Genesis G70 is fitted with a well-performing lane support system, with ‘good’ performance recorded across testing, including some of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios,” Mr Goodwin said.

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