News - Holden
ANCAP: Oz heavyweights gain four stars
ANCAP upgrades Commodore, Falcon and Camry crash test safety
19 May 2003
By BRUCE NEWTON
AUSTRALIAN-built large cars are getting safer, according to the latest round of independent crash testing conducted by the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
The BA Ford Falcon, VY Holden Commodore and 380N Toyota Camry four-cylinder all recorded four stars out of a possible five.
Previously no Australian-built car had been able to manage better than a three-star rating.
Australian NCAP star ratings combine each vehicle's performance in an offset frontal impact test against a deformable barrier at 64km/h and a side impact test at 50km/h.
The tests are conducted with the financial support of a consortium of motoring clubs and government bodies. Car companies have no involvement with the tests and are officially opposed to them.
"This is a good result for Falcon, Commodore and Camry. They have all raised their performance in terms of occupant protection with new models and are now equal with European cars such as Saab 9-5, Volvo S70, S80 and BMW 5 Series," said Michael Case, RACV chief engineer, vehicles.
When ANCAP last tested large Aussie cars in 2001, they each scored three stars. While the Toyota Avalon was not tested in the most recent round of testing, its three-star result from the 2001 tests has been included unchanged as there has been no upgrade to the vehicle in that time.
The Mitsubishi Magna is about to be upgraded so it was not tested. In 2001 it scored a three-star rating.
It's not all good news though, with ANCAP's 40km/h pedestrian test awarding he Commodore no stars out of four and the Camry and Falcon one star. Neither Avalon or Magna have been subjected to the pedestrian test.
Mr Case said the large car market was significant as it was a big seller, especially with fleet managers. These safer four-star vehicles soon flow on to many buyers on the private second-hand market.
Both Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are fitted with a driver seatbelt warning alarm that has an audible sound and visual flashing light to alert the driver to buckle up. ANCAP added this feature to its scoring system to tackle the high number of fatal crashes that occur when an unbuckled driver crashes.
The Falcon and Camry models tested were fitted with a brake pedal release system that means the foot is not trapped and so is less likely to be injured in a serious crash. This is acknowledged as a positive vehicle safety feature that can reduce leg and foot injury.
"Falcon, Commodore and Camry are about equal in occupant protection. The improvements they have made over the last two years is proof that you can increase the occupant protection of cars," Mr Case said.
While pleased with the result, Mr Case said there was still room for even greater improvement.
"The challenge is now on to make the first Australian-built ANCAP five-star rated vehicle," he said.
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