- David Twomey
At a well-attended media conference today the President of Ford Australia, Mr Bill Osborne, said the industry first was a vindication of the company’s faith in the safety of the new FG Falcon, all the more so because it had been secured by the base model Falcon XT, which does not have curtain airbags as standard.
The ANCAP rating will apply to all petrol-engined models of the Falcon sedan, including the V8, but does not apply to the Utility, which must be tested separately, or E-Gas powered models, which currently do not have Dynamic Stability Control, Ford’s version of ESC, fitted.
Mr Osborne told CarAdvice that one of Ford’s top engineering priorities was to get DSC into the E-Gas Falcon and he expected this would have been achieved by early next year.
The E-Gas Falcon is being increasingly marketed by Ford, not just as a fleet vehicle, but as a cost effective option for families who want to stay in a large car but are concerned about growing fuel costs.
"The petrol FG Falcon sedan range has been judged by ANCAP as being the safety leader amongst locally-manufactured vehicles, cementing Ford's long standing reputation for safety leadership in Australia," Mr Osborne said.
"We design our cars to deliver real-world safety benefits for our customers. This result is a resounding third party endorsement of the extensive safety development program undertaken for the all-new FG Falcon.
"Not only is the FG Falcon the safest vehicle ever produced in this country, it is also competitive with the safest sedans in the world."These safety test results add further validation to the extensive crash simulation process and physical crash test program conducted by Ford Australia for the FG Falcon, which was the most comprehensive in the company's history."
Mr Osborne said the ANCAP result vindicated Ford’s own testing in which more than 38 different vehicle crash modes were investigated during the course of the vehicle's development, with 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests and more than 5000 start-of-the-art simulated crash tests completed.
The Chair of ANCAP, Mr Lauchlan McIntosh was on hand to congratulate Ford and to praise the Falcon which he said “now leads the pack in safety for the large Australian-made family car.”
He said ANCAP now had high expectations that this achievement would encourage other manufacturers to strive to build five-star cars.
When tested soon after release the Holden Commodore scored 27.5 points and got a four star rating, while the Toyota Aurion scored 30 points and also got four stars.
Mr McIntosh said the Falcon scored a very commendable 34.61 points out of a possible 37 points for the ANCAP test, and this was the highest score ever by an Australian made car “by a long margin.”
However it was not all good news for the Falcon with the FG Falcon scoring a relatively average two stars for pedestrian safety out of a possible four.
Mr McIntosh said; "This is an improvement on the previous Falcon, but there is still plenty of room for improving pedestrian protection."
For the Falcon to be in the running for the five-star rating Ford had to donate an additional crash test vehicle to ANCAP so the challenging Pole Test could be conducted.
Mr Osborne said at the launch of the FG Falcon that a vehicle would be made available for this test, which was a departure from the previous attitude of Australian car manufacturers, which have previously refused to provide the extra vehicle for the Pole Test.
The five-star score by the Falcon is also a strong vindication of Ford’s claims that it did not need to offer curtain airbags as standard in the base XT to achieve the safety rating.
The vehicle tested was fitted with what Ford calls a ‘chest/head’ side airbag and this was sufficient for the car to win the rating.
Previously ANCAP has indicated that cars without a curtain airbag, which protects the upper areas of both front and rear passengers, had little chance of achieving a five-star rating.
Mr McIntosh said the Ford had set a new standard and it may mean that in future ANCAP would have to look at an additional rating, beyond five-stars, for vehicles with curtain airbags.
Ford Australia Vice President of Product Development Trevor Worthington said a world-class body structure and comprehensive suite of active and passive safety features had given the Falcon the opportunity to score a five-star safety rating.
He said the company's long held reputation for designing vehicles to deliver innovative real-world safety benefits ensured that the safety development program for the new Falcon has remained a step ahead of growing consumer awareness of the importance of vehicle safety.
Mr Osborne told CarAdvice that Ford would be promoting the five-star rating of the Falcon by displaying an ANCAP sticker on all vehicles, and this would be added to other five-star vehicles in the Ford fleet, including Focus and Mondeo.
He said safety would be the point-of-difference that Ford would offer the Australian buying public.
He added that while the large-car segment of the market was struggling Ford was seeing growing sales for its entrant in the market and he expected even stronger success in the future, on the back of the Falcon’s excellent safety rating.