The safety of vehicles available in the South African market has been highlighted by the release of a new round of #SaferCarsForAfrica crash test results by Global NCAP and the Automobile Association (AA).
The latest results have prompted AA to renew its call for safety ratings to be displayed on new vehicles in dealership showrooms.
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The latest Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) crash tests led the Mazda 2, with driver and passenger airbags, to achieve four stars for the protection of adult occupants and three stars for children.
The Nissan Almera, with airbags for the driver and passenger, earned three stars for adult occupants and three stars for children.
The Mazda 2 available in South Africa is manufactured in Thailand, while the Nissan Almera is produced in India.
Global NCAP and AA said both models showed seat failure during testing.
The Nissan Almera experienced a seat detachment during testing, while the Mazda had a backrest failure.
Failures raised with manufacturers
“Although these had no significant effect on our evaluation scores, which are based on injury criteria, the failures are of serious concern and have been raised with each manufacturer by Global NCAP as a matter of urgency.
“Both models were equipped with ISOFIX anchors and combined with effective child restraint systems (CRS) they showed good protection in the dynamic test.
“Neither vehicle offers the ability to disconnect the passenger airbag when a rear-facing CRS is installed in the passenger seat,” they said.
Comments on the Global NCAP test results were solicited from both Nissan South Africa and Mazda Southern Africa, but a response has yet to be received from either company.
This is the fifth round of #SaferCarsForAfrica crash tests and increases the number of models tested to 18.
Failures in the driver’s seat ‘worrisome’
Alejandro Furas, secretary general of the new car evaluation program for Latin America and the Caribbean and technical director of Global NCAP, said that although the latest #SaferCarsForAfrica tests returned average results, Global NCAP is concerned that both cars had failures in their seats of driver. , which were more severe on the Nissan Almera than on the Mazda 2.
“Global NCAP calls on both automakers to review these failures urgently.
“We are also asking them to improve the basic safety offered on these models as standard by adding Electronic Stability Control (ESC), pedestrian protection and side head and body airbags as soon as possible,” he said.
Global NCAP is a program of the UK registered charity, Towards Zero Foundation.
Foundation Chief Executive David Ward said it is concerning to see seat failures of the type revealed in his latest #SaferCarsForAfrica tests.
Ward urged Mazda and Nissan to address these issues as a priority and, more generally, to significantly improve the safety features equipped on their production models.
“Consumers in Africa deserve the same levels of vehicle safety performance that are taken for granted in other parts of the world,” he said.
Furas said manufacturers generally react to NCAP’s test results, particularly if the results will affect vehicle sales.
“Then they will react immediately to improve that or they will move away from that poor result.
“They decide to cancel the car or trade it in for a new model or they volunteer to try out a better performing model or just upgrade what they have available,” he said.
AA drives better standards
AA Executive Director Willem Groenewald said the #SaferCarsforAfrica initiative is an important program for AA as it continues to push for better vehicle safety standards for local consumers.
Groenewald said the results of the fifth round of testing are encouraging, especially the four-star rating achieved by the Mazda 2.
“However, the results show that there are still some safety deficiencies in the vehicles available in South Africa and this, again, should serve as a marker for manufacturers and safety authorities of the need to improve the basic safety features they must offered as standard on all models. available locally, ”he said.
Layton Beard, a spokesman for AA, said the association continues to raise the need to display safety ratings on new vehicles on dealer showroom floors in meetings and with the SA Office of Standards (SABS) and the National Regulator of Mandatory Specifications (NRCS).
However, Beard emphasized that this is something that should be consumer driven.
“We can agitate all we want and we can advocate for it to happen, but unless there is pressure from consumers and unless that pressure is put on regulators and authorities, it will be a very long stretch,” he said.
Furas believes that manufacturers will start reacting much more quickly to NCAP results when their more stringent security protocols are introduced starting in 2022 because the test results will be worse.
He stressed that NCAP is an independent consumer when it tests and buys the car from a dealer and takes it into their labs and tests.
Pedestrian Protection Online for Assessment Next Year
Furas said NCAP conducts tests and evaluations on vehicles for safety and pedestrian protection but, at the moment in Africa, it is only evaluating the protection of vehicle occupants.
“But in the next protocol, starting next year, we are going to include the protection of pedestrians.
“It is more than passive security. What we are looking at is how the car is designed at the front, not just the shape, but also the materials used.
“Instead of using a complete mannequin, we are using parts of the mannequin, that is, parts of the body like a head and a leg. We are throwing them against different areas of the car and measuring the ‘injuries’, “he said.
Beard said AA welcomes the introduction of the new protocol in Africa and its focus on pedestrian protection as well.
“Up to 40% of all road deaths in South Africa annually are pedestrians,” said Beard.
“That is part of the reason why the new protocols, with these pedestrian safety features, are very important specifically from a South African point of view.
“But it also reinforces AA’s visibility campaigns and the need for more pedestrian safety education.”