AA car-safety report is misleading: Hyundai and Suzuki

13 August 2020 - 09:02 By Denis Droppa
In partnership with the AA, the Global NCAP #SaferCarsForAfrica programme has conducted crash tests on a number of vehicles sold locally, mostly in the budget category. Picture: SUPPLIED
In partnership with the AA, the Global NCAP #SaferCarsForAfrica programme has conducted crash tests on a number of vehicles sold locally, mostly in the budget category. Picture: SUPPLIED

The findings of the AA’s latest Entry-Level Vehicle Safety (ELVS) Report are misleading, according to some car companies named in the study.

The AA sampled 27 entry-level models priced under R200,000 from 16 different manufacturers and categorised them on their safety ratings. The report was desktop research that rated the vehicles on safety features such as ABS, stability control and airbags. It didn’t consider the structural integrity of the driver/passenger compartment but additional points were awarded to vehicles crash tested under the Global NCAP system.

The Peugeot 108, the only car in the study with six airbags, was the highest rated vehicle.

Hyundai Automotive SA felt that the classification of the vehicles into categories of “Acceptable” “Moderate” and “Poor” safety relied on flawed methodology that was followed to arrive at a total of ranking points.

Hyundai, which had its Atos and Grand i10 listed in the Moderate category, says one of the factors the cars were scored on was the number of stars they received in the Global NCAP crash test. If a car was rated three stars out of five, it would get 15 points towards its total score on the AA’s sheet, and if it scored one out of five stars, it would score five points.

“If a car did not undergo a crash test, it would simply get zero points. A number of cars were given zero and ended up in the Moderate safety category,” says Deon Sonnekus, GM: Corporate Communications at Hyundai Automotive SA.

“If they did undergo a crash test and had to score only one star out of five, which is not a great safety indication, they would get an extra five points in the AA table, which would push all of them into the Acceptable safety category. And then the outcome of the way this exercise was structured simply does not make sense”.

Only five of the 27 cars listed in the report had undergone a crash test: the Toyota Etios Hatch 1.5 Xi, Honda Amaze 1.2 Trend, Suzuki Ignis, Kia Picanto 1.0 Start and Datsun Go+.

Only five of the 27 cars listed in this report have undergone a Global NCAP crash test. Graph: SUPPLIED
Only five of the 27 cars listed in this report have undergone a Global NCAP crash test. Graph: SUPPLIED

Hyundai says if the purpose is to indicate to the public which cars have acceptable safety, then the criterion of crash test results should be left out unless all the models and derivatives did undergo a crash test, and their real scores are known.

“If not, you rely on an unknown factor — how many stars a car would have scored in the test — to calculate a definite figure which determines the safety level of a vehicle.”

Suzuki Auto SA — which had one car rated Acceptable, four rated Moderate and one rated Poor — said it was also not fully supportive of the way in which the report was structured and its scoring criteria.

“A vehicle with ABS and no airbags, and a vehicle without ABS but with two airbags fell within the same category as a vehicle that is equipped with both ABS and two airbags,” said Brendon Carpenter, Suzuki Auto’s Brand Marketing Manager.

However the AA’s Layton Beard stood by the testing methodology, saying the ELVS Report notes that there are limitations in the desktop research and the only definitive test of a car’s safety is a crash test.

“The data presented here should be used as an indication of a vehicle’s safety equipment, and not as the sole indicator of the vehicle’s overall safety rating,” said Beard.

In partnership with the AA, the Global NCAP #SaferCarsForAfrica programme has conducted crash tests on a number of vehicles sold locally, mostly in the budget category. Beard says the AA has invited local car manufacturers and importers to submit their vehicles for crash testing but many have declined to do so.

The AA has been an active road safety campaigner in SA, which remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries to drive in. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) SA is listed 13th out of 195 countries in the number of road deaths per capita, with 28.2 road deaths per 100,000 population compared to top-placed Singapore with just 3.53 deaths per 100,000 people.


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