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Nissan on Navara crash course

One-star car: Navara scored poorly in Euro NCAP's crash test.

Navara airbag fix to begin, but more corrective action hinges on NCAP re-test

6 Mar 2008

NISSAN Australia is confident that the D40 Navara’s “extremely poor” one-star strike-through rating by the European New Car Assessment Programme will improve significantly as a result of modifications it plans to carry out on existing vehicles from later this week.

However, the ‘fix’ will not involve any structural changes to the D40 Navara, despite the fact that Euro NCAP said there were problems with the vehicle’s high levels of passenger compartment intrusion.

Speaking at the Melbourne International Motor Show last week, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Shinya Hannya said that the company had already moved to rectify the situation for all D40 Navara trucks built before December 2007.

“We are going to launch a service campaign to notify customers from March 6, to reprogram the computer for the airbags,” Mr Hannya said. “We believe that this will have a very positive impact.

“All the (affected) owners will be notified and asked to bring the cars back to dealerships, and then we reprogram the sensor and that should improve the airbag’s performance.”

12 center imageMr Hannya (left) said that this action alone should greatly improve the D40 Navara’s crash-test rating. However, a Nissan spokesperson told GoAuto this week that it must await the results of the second D40 Navara crash test by Euro NCAP before it decides whether to act on chassis rail intrusion and the passenger compartment deformation claims.

“Nissan is encouraging them to release that as soon as possible,” said Nissan Australia manager of corporate communications Jeffrey Fisher, who has been fielding calls from affected owners since the news broke last week.

“Customers are phoning up and asking for an explanation,” he said. “They are not calling us to condemn us, but rather to (ask), ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘What do I need to do?’ because the dealers have not contacted them yet.”

As reported last week, Euro NCAP found that the D40 Navara offered an “unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury to the driver’s head and the passenger’s neck” in the frontal impact test.

The independent automotive crash safety organisation also said that in addition to the collapse of the Navara’s chassis rail on the impacted side, which allowed a “significant” level of intrusion into the driver’s footwell, “protection of the driver’s chest was rated as weak owing to the extent to which the chest was compressed, combined with the threat posed by the unstable passenger compartment”.

“The passenger’s neck was bent rearwards in the impact, presenting a high risk of life-threatening injury,” Euro NCAP said. “The airbags and seatbelt pretensioners were triggered late in the impact and readings from the driver dummy’s head also indicated a high risk of life-threatening injury.”

The second D40 Navara tests will be made public sometime before March 20.

“We programmed the cars to Euro NCAP, and until they make an official announcement we do not know what the result will be,” Mr Hannya said. “But we are confident that the result is improved and acceptable to us.”

Mr Fisher was also keen to point out that Nissan does not necessarily believe that all independent crash-test procedures are true to real-life scenarios.

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