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Citing what it somewhat facetiously calls an “outbreak of common sense” Mercedes-Benz has congratulated the Victorian Government on a decision that will change the types of cars young and probationary drivers are allowed to drive.

You’ll recall that we recently reported that following representations from Volkswagen Group Australia the New South Wales Road Traffic Authority (RTA) altered its ruling on probationary drivers in relation to the VW Golf VI’s new TSI engines, which use a turbocharger and a supercharger to produce more power and efficiency  from their small capacity.

At the time we indicated that the Victorian authorities were also considering changes.

Those changes have now taken place and will allow young Victorian ‘P-Plate’ drivers access to some of the safest modern cars available in Australia today, many of which were previously deemed ‘High Performance Vehicles’ (HPVs) because they were fitted with a turbo- or supercharger.

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Mercedes-Benz says the issue has been an important one for it as it has prevented many of its customers’ children from driving their cars, vehicles that, it says, are widely regarded as world-leading products in terms of safety.

The issue has been of similar importance to other European manufacturers and was highlighted by the recent release of the Golf VI, with its small capacity TSI engines, which use turbo- and supercharging to improve the performance and fuel efficiency.

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Mercedes-Benz says cars such as the C200 Kompressor sedan, the most popular model in the company’s Australian catalogue, were deemed ‘high performance’ under the regulations due to the fitment of a supercharger to its 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. This was despite the fact its maximum power output is 135kW.

There are similar arguments in favour of the VW Golf VI with its TSI engines.

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It was argued the regulations denied young drivers access to important safety equipment such as Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), multiple airbags and advanced safety technologies.

The president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, Mr Wolfgang D Schrempp and the managing director of Mercedes-Benz Cars in Australia, Mr Horst von Sanden, have jointly commended the Victorian Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas for his leadership in implementing amended rules and arrangements for probationary drivers licence holders who drive such vehicles.

Mr Schrempp said: “In concert with the technical committee of The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) we presented our case that many low-boost turbocharged and supercharged vehicles did not pose a safety threat to young drivers.

“In fact the safety, fuel economy and emissions credentials of many previously banned vehicles were amongst the best in the world.

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“We congratulate and commend minister Pallas for his progressive and logical approach to the very real issue of road trauma involving young drivers. His acknowledgement that some of the safest cars available will no longer be denied to young drivers at the most fragile time of their driving career is a significant advance of public policy “said Mr Schrempp.

Mr Pallas has announced that the new arrangements will allow Probationary Driver’s Licence holders to apply for exemptions to drive lower-performance turbocharged or supercharged cars.
The move brings Victoria into line with other Australian states, with VicRoads to continue to work with New South Wales and Queensland authorities to develop and maintain a consistent set of criteria.

VicRoads will facilitate exemption permits to be granted by letter, upon application, for the following vehicle types:
1. Turbocharged or Supercharged Vehicles with a power to weight ratio of less than 100kW per tonne;
2. Turbocharged or Supercharged Vehicles with a power to weight ratio between 100kW and 125kW per tonne and that are considered to be a family-type vehicle rather than a sports-type vehicle.

Mr von Sanden, said: ““We are very pleased that the Victorian Government has taken the very reasonable position of recognising that some turbocharged and supercharged vehicles that could not, in good conscience, be classified as HPVs will now be granted exemptions, and that true HPVs will continue to be banned for young and probationary drivers.”

The official press release on this matter from the office of the Victorian Minister for Roads and Ports can be found at http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/minister-for-roads-ports/new-fuel-efficient-vehicle-rules-for-young-drivers.html






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