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Official: Holden builds the first-ever five-star ute

Safety star: Holden's VE Ute has become the first ute to win the maximum safety rating.

GM Holden’s Commodore-based MY10 Ute earns a maximum five-star ANCAP rating

Holden logo20 Oct 2009

By TERRY MARTIN

GM HOLDEN has become the first vehicle manufacturer to achieve a maximum five-star crash-test rating for a ute from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

The result was expected after the Australian car-maker released its upgraded MY10 VE Ute series last month, becoming the first to offer a light commercial vehicle in this market with six airbags fitted standard across the range.

Head-protecting curtain airbags were added to the standard life-saving equipment on board the Commodore-based two-door utility, making for a comprehensive list alongside dual frontal and side-impact airbags, electronic stability and traction control, and ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

The MY10 series also brought the VE Ute into line with the Commodore passenger car range in offering a seatbelt warning device for the front passenger and, for the driver, a steering column shroud designed to further improve protection in the knee region.

The first five-star rating for a ute comes three weeks after ANCAP handed down a damning one-star result for the Proton Jumbuck and two stars for the Great Wall Motors SA220 and V240 utilities.

13 center imageFrom top: Holden VE Ute offset crash test, Proton Jumbuck, Great Wall SA220, Ford Falcon.

It also follows the first five-star rating for a commercial vehicle, delivered to the Mercedes-Benz Vito in August, and a number of other commendable four-star results for trade-oriented vehicles, including Ford Australia’s FG Falcon Ute, over the past 18 months.

Holden’s result with the MY10 Ute, which is well above the three-star rating of its Thai-built Colorado one-tonner, improves on the four-star rating handed down to the VE Ute in April 2008 and has this week prompted widespread praise from road safety authorities.

“ANCAP has just awarded Australia’s first five-star light commercial van rating and now the first five-star ute, so those motorists who need a work vehicle can now opt for five-star safety,” said ANCAP program manager and RACV chief engineer Michael Case.

“Having a five-star vehicle in this category means Australians can buy more homegrown vehicles that are the safest on the road.” Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) road safety manager Samantha Cockfield also welcomed the five-star rating “after those disappointing results” from Proton and Great Wall Motors.

“This is great news for utility drivers, especially tradespeople, farmers and others who rely on utes for their work and lifestyle,” said Ms Cockfield. “I congratulate Holden on the rating, which means they now have a five-star Commodore fleet.” ANCAP Council chairman and VicRoads manager of vehicle safety Ross McArthur said more five-star ratings, across a wider range of vehicles, were also expected in future.

“We know other Australian manufacturers are working hard to produce similar five-star utes for the Australian market and we look forward to testing those as they become available,” Mr McArthur said.

As GoAuto has reported, Ford Australia is also eligible to achieve a five-star rating for its FG Falcon Ute, despite offering side head/thorax airbags as options across the range and restricting standard electronic stability control to XR6 level or higher.

It could achieve the accolade if it made these items standard, or if it funded a side pole test to test its side-impact protection.

Ford Australia president Marin Burela said last month that the Blue Oval brand would not pursue the five-star rating, arguing that Falcon Ute customers preferred to have the option of purchasing extra safety equipment such as airbags.

“They want the choice,” he told GoAuto. “But what they don’t want is to have it mandated and have it priced … They don’t see the incremental airbags as being useful to them in how they interact with the vehicle, and how they use the vehicle.

“If the market then changed its mind and says, ‘You know what, we would like you to go out there and do the same things’ it is something that we can very quickly and easily do.

“It is not an issue. The car is designed, the features are available.” Any surge in Holden Ute sales in the coming months could see Ford reverse its decision not to make the changes required to achieve a five-star result for the Falcon workhorse.

GM Holden’s vehicle structure and safety integration manager Steve Curtis said that ensuring the ute met the same high standard of the remainder of the VE range had been “a real focus”.

“This endorsement from ANCAP is a very clear indication that we are on the right path of continual improvement,” he said.

VE Omega Utes that are converted to dual-fuel LPG also receive the five star safety rating.

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