Australia has a lot going for it as a country. It’s huge, has many natural resources, fantastic weather, a varied landscape and when it comes to its roads, its vehicles are some of the safest in the world because until now, it’s had one of the most stringent safety star ratings around. However, now the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which previously required airbags for back seat passengers and a strong score in head on collision tests to give a car a five star rating, has now announced that it’s changing its rating system to be more in-line with the EU’s rating system, which requires neither of those plus points for a five star rating.
Set to start next year, the new system will mean it’s much easier for car manufacturers to receive a five star rating for safety in Australia, something that consumer groups are not happy about.
“Any move to water down safety standards is a raw deal for the consumer,” said Tom Godfrey, the spokesman for Australia’s peak consumer body Choice (via News). He went on to urge ANCAP to reverse its decision in order to, “maintain the highest standards possible when it comes to car safety.”
The reason from ANCAP’s end of things, is that it felt the current system where cars in the EU could be given a five star rating, but not in Australia, meant that consumers would be confused. Clearly though the system is already being manipulated by car manufacturers, with Renault pushing back the launch of its Captur 4×4 until next year, since it doesn’t feature rear seat airbags and would therefore only receive a four star rating if released this year. Next year, it is likely to garner a five.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing though, is that the European equivalent of ANCAP, EuroNCAP, is changing its own rules in 2016 to make rear seat airbags mandatory for a five star rating, so if ANCAP had simply held it’s ground, the world would have caught up. Instead it’s changing now, only to change back again in a year and a half’s time.
ANCAP seems rather indifferent to this however, with chief executive officer Nicholas Clarke saying: “Rear airbags are important, there’s no doubt about that. But Europe will require them (for five star ratings) in due course. There might be room for a little bit of confusion but we will respond to consumers as they arise. It’s really those that have a very active interest in safety that would pursue issues of rear airbags over no rear airbags.”
Perhaps most ridiculously, ANCAP itself only implemented the rear airbag requirement for a five star rating in 2013, so it’s been flip flopping for a while now.