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The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has called on Australian importers to not withhold safety equipment on Australian delivered models. The AAA said technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC/ESP/DSC/etc) and side curtain airbags are available as standard equipment on variants overseas but they are either unavailable here or are made an optional extra.

AAA Executive Director Mike Harris said the practice of de-speccing vehicles to reduce costs means many motorists miss out on vital life-saving technologies.

Australian motorists are missing out on these vital life-saving technologies which are available in the same models overseas – and that’s not good enough. While some manufacturers do include these life-saving technologies, we look forward to seeing these included as standard safety features on all models.” Mr Harris said.

As we have previously mentioned, ESC technology has proven to be a life saver in many instances, with research showing crash reduction of up to 50% for roll-overs in the U.S. Despite the findings, Australians continue to miss out on ESC on some of the big selling models (namely the new Toyota Corolla). Although more and more manufacturers are adding ESC as standard across the range.

The AAA believes it is the Federal Government’s duty to insure imported cars are not deliberately de-specced.

…both Federal and State governments should use their considerable market advantage as major fleet buyers to purchase cars fitted with ESC and curtain airbags,” Mr Harris said.

At the end of this article you can find tables provided by the AAA that show a list of imported vehicles with and without ESC and curtain air bags.

Of course it didn’t take long for car manufacturers to fight back, first in line was Suzuki Australia which issued a press release only a few hours ago disputing claims by the AAA that Australian variants of the Suzuki lineup were de-specced.

“The claims that safety features such as side airbags and ESC were not available on Suzuki Swift are wrong and demonstrate a clear lack of research.” Suzuki Australia General Manager Tony Devers said

“Despite assertions to the contrary by the AAA, the Suzuki Swift S comes complete with side airbags and side curtain airbags as standard features. And the range topping Swift Sport includes those features and ESP, although the AAA lists those features as not available in the Australian model.” he added

Further to his comments, Devers said the AAA also needs to take into consideration the price difference between the European and the Australian models.

“In another glaring oversight by the AAA, its claim of ‘de-speccing’ Australian vehicles compared to European versions clearly does not take into consideration the fact similarly priced Australian Swifts are considerably cheaper than the UK equivalent.

The Suzuki chief pointed out the Swift S is sold in Australia with the same specifications as in the UK (with side airbags and side curtain airbags) but is $3500 cheaper than its UK counterpart.

Although Suzuki is one of the few manufacturers that has put safety over profit, other manufacturers trying to stay competitive in the market, have removed even the most basic safety features to achieve the sub $15,000 price.

Holden with their two-star safety rating Barina have removed Anti-Lock-Brakes as standard (available as an option), Kia has done the same with the Kia Rio we recently reviewed – both of these cars are available with ABS .

Table 1 – Comparison of Availability Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Table 1.1 – Small and Medium Passenger Cars

Vehicle make and model Australia EU USA
Ford Fiesta X O
Ford Focus (i) O O X
Holden Astra O 1
Holden Barina X X X
Honda Civic X 1 O
Honda Jazz X X X
Hyundai Accent X O X
Hyundai Elantra O O
Hyundai Getz O O
Kia Rio X O X
Mazda 2 (i) X O
Mazda 3 1 O O
Mazda 6 O O O
Mitsubishi Lancer X X
Peugeot 307 O 1
Subaru Impreza (I) X X X
Subaru Liberty O O O
Suzuki Swift X O
Toyota Corolla X O O
Toyota Camry O O
Toyota Yaris X O X
VW Polo O O
VW Golf O 1 O

Table 1.2 – Small and Medium Passenger 4Wheel Drives (or SUVs)

Vehicle make and model Australia EU USA
Honda CR-V 1 1 1
Ford Escape X X
Mazda Tribute X X
Mazda CX-7 1 1 1
Mitsubishi Outlander O 1
Nissan X-trail X O
Subaru Forester X O X
Toyota RAV4 O 1
Holden Captiva 1 O
Subaru Outback O O O
Available on all variants 1
Available on some variants O
Not available on any variant X
Not sold in market or data not available

Note: (i) An upgraded model is due to be released.

Table 2 – Comparison of Availability of Side Head/Curtain Airbags

Table 2.1 – Small and Medium Passenger Cars

Vehicle make and model Australia EU USA
Ford Fiesta O X
Ford Focus (i) O 1 O
Holden Astra O 1
Holden Barina X 1 1
Honda Civic O 1 1
Honda Jazz X X 1
Hyundai Accent O 1
Hyundai Elantra 1 1
Hyundai Getz X 1
Kia Rio O 1 1
Mazda 2 (i) 1 O
Mazda 3 1 1 O
Mazda 6 1 1 1
Mitsubishi Lancer O X
Peugeot 307 1 1
Subaru Impreza (i) 1 X 1
Subaru Liberty O O 1
Suzuki Swift 1 1
Toyota Corolla O 1 O
Toyota Camry O 1
Toyota Yaris O 1 O
VW Polo 1 1
VW Golf 1 1 1

Table 2.2 – Small and Medium Passenger 4Wheel Drives (or SUVs)

Vehicle make and model Australia EU USA
Honda CR-V O 1 1
Ford Escape O O
Mazda Tribute 1 O
Mazda CX-7 1 1 1
Mitsubishi Outlander O 1 1
Nissan X-trail X 1
Subaru Forester 1 O 1
Toyota RAV4 O 1
Holden Captiva 1 1
Subaru Outback O O 1
Available on all variants 1
Available on some variants O
Not available on any variant X
Not sold in market or data not available





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