When a two-star ANCAP crash score was announced for the Ford Mustang earlier this year, many of us expected that there would be major consumer recoil. But there hasn’t been.
The Ford Mustang just saw its best month ever in Australia, with a huge 1351 units sold, and it is easily the highest-selling sports car in the country at this point in time, with 3772 units sold to the end of May 2017.
And with a facelifted version having already been unveiled in the US ahead of its arrival here late in 2018, it seems buyers are going to be left with a choice – buy it now, or wait for the new one to see if it gets re-tested.
Now, let’s just consider that the ANCAP crash test was one of the ones that was actually tested by Euro NCAP, and the scores for the local program applied.
It is unclear if the facelifted model (pictured below) will be re-tested – we’d suggest it will be! – but Ford Australia president and CEO, Graeme Whickman, said buyers don’t think the Mustang is unsafe.
“We’ve just had our biggest month ever, last month, on Mustang. And again, I don’t want to harp on specifically about sales, but suffice to say that there are clearly a number of people out there who have an interest in the vehicle, and they’re continuing to purchase it,” Whickman said.
“At the time when that score came out, I was pretty explicit about our view of the situation,” he said. “Yes, four-star adult occupancy, three-star rear-seat occupancy, five-star pedestrian, two-star driver assist. Two-star driver assist? Why? Okay, lane-keeping, belt-minder in the back, AEB, and then of course that two-star component is the driving force, regardless of the other elements.
“We had to come out and explain our position, and all we could do was explain our position. The car, like any of our vehicles, is a safe vehicle,” Whickman insisted. “And I think the perception was at the time, the way it was reported or how people were talking about it, there were concerns over things more fundamental, like, you know, rigidity of the chassis, and it was nothing to do with that at all.”
Indeed, as the ANCAP release stated, the Mustang scored 16 per cent for safety assist tech, 32 per cent for child occupant protection, 72 per cent for adult occupant protection and 64 per cent for pedestrian protection. But, this was the concerning part: “insufficient inflation of both front airbags in the frontal offset test which allowed the driver’s head to contact the steering wheel and the passenger’s head to contact the dashboard”.
Still, Whickman said people have taken those details in their stead.
“We had some people ring in and ask us those questions, and we responded exactly that way. We had people on the waiting list write in, and we responded exactly that way. And after they’ve reviewed the facts, they’ve made their own decision,” he said.
“So we’re confident about the safety of the vehicle, and we’ve seen no ebbing of the demand. We’ve seen, actually, our sales grow, and our orders have been very strong – so that answers one part of your question.
“And the second part … we’ll look at the specification and how it lines up versus what is expected in its market – we’ll do all those sorts of things. About re-testing? I don’t have a point of view at this point, I haven’t even turned my thoughts to that. At the end of the day, the vehicle is going to be built to our own standards, of which we have a lot of confidence in.
“All I’ll say is that there were some pretty inflammatory remarks made at the time, which I would have preferred just the facts to be out there. People can make their own judgement on the facts – that’s the fair thing to do,” Whickman said.