News of a two-star safety rating for the ageing LDV V80 van has resulted in a war of words today between the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the Chinese brand’s local distributor, Ateco Automotive.
ANCAP’s report on the van’s frontal offset crash test reveals a serious risk of head, chest and leg injury, but it’s the absence of electronic stability control (ESC) and the safety watchdog’s year-by-year testing criteria that has led to confusion over the V80’s score.
Speaking with CarAdvice today, Ateco’s public relations consultant for Asian brands, Daniel Cotterill, said that ANCAP’s decision to test the V80 as a 2012 model runs counter to the organisation’s 2011-2017 roadmap.
"The score is confusing; they've scored it as a 2013, whereas it's a 2012 model,” Cotterill said.
It’s not surprising that the company would prefer to see the V80 tested as a 2012 model: under ANCAP’s roadmap, a rating based on that year’s testing criteria - when ESC had not yet become mandatory for a three-star rating - could have seen the V80 awarded an additional star.
“Working off their own roadmap, the definition of a new model is ‘a new model that is issued with an Identification Plate Approval (IPA) under the Motor Vehicles Standards Act’. The V80’s IPA was originally issued in November 2012, and there was stock of the vehicle here - under [previous LDV distributor] WMC, of course,” Cotterill said.
“We have documentation that proves the vehicles were available to the public in November 2012. WMC had their business-to-business people on the phone to their normal client base, telling them that the V80 was available,” he said.
Cotterill said that Ateco must now explain to LDV’s parent company, Chinese builder SAIC - whose engineers were present at the testing and had been in discussions with ANCAP engineers prior to and following the crash test - as to why the vehicle scored just two stars.
"We're generally quite supportive of the ANCAP crash test process, but this has left us confused," he said.
ANCAP chief executive officer, Nicholas Clarke, told CarAdvice today that Ateco should not be surprised: the organisation’s requirements are clear, he believes.
“It’s a 2012 Identification Plate Approval, but it’s a 2013 release date. We got confirmation that the dealer launch was in 2013, and we rate vehicles on when they’re available to the public,” Clarke said.
“The view that they’ve got is not correct; it’s to do with when the vehicles are launched, for the public to buy.”
He said that the IPA is used specifically to determine the appropriate criteria for testing, “primarily so that we can identify whether it is a new model or a ‘running change’”.
“We distinguish between these because, historically, we’ve had some manufacturers say ‘no this is a running change’, but they’ve kept the same IPA for a decade. So we’d be in a situation where we’d be rating cars back a decade.”
“The launch is the launch, and when consumers see it in the dealerships, that’s when we rate it from, and that was 2013.”
Mr Clarke added that the addition of ESC, which is confirmed for September production this year and a likely on-sale date of November 2015, the V80 may be eligible for a higher safety rating.
“If it gets ESC - and this is why they’re concerned about the 2012 versus 2013, because if it was rated as a 2012 model it would get three-star - but it’s got no ESC, and for 2013 you require ESC. If it gets ESC by November, it should be eligible then for a three-star rating.”
While Ateco waits for November and a potential new score, the V80’s current score makes it one of the lowest-rated vehicles available on the new-car market, joined in the two-star class by fellow Chinese cars, the Great Wall V240 ute and the compact Chery J11 SUV.
Apart from the absence of ESC, the V80 is also not equipped with chest- and head-protecting side airbags or seatbelt reminders - although none of those omissions would exclude the V80 from a three-star rating once ESC is introduced.