Johannesburg - The Automobile Association of South Africa is in talks with the National Department of Transport in a bid to get the safety ratings of all vehicles sold in the country displayed on vehicles in dealer showrooms.
The engagement forms part of an initiative by the AA, together with the Global NCAP crash testing authority, to provide consumers with information to enable them to make better purchasing choices.
Collins Khumalo, the chief executive of the AA, said the mandatory testing of the safety of vehicles in South Africa was something they were pushing for, but funding was an issue, adding they also wanted Global NCAP safety ratings of vehicles sold in South Africa to be displayed on vehicles, so consumers were conscious of it when they made the purchasing decision.
Global NCAP technical director Alejandro Furas said manufacturers took advantage of the lack of information available to consumers in certain markets because the vehicles were legal to be sold in those markets.
But Furas said the Global NCAP testing programme was a bit beyond regulation.
Furas said their expectation was that as they started testing more vehicles in South Africa and more consumers and fleet managers were aware of this, they would take action by buying more four- and five-star rated vehicles than three-star vehicles.
“That is going to shift the market is less in two years. That is what happens in the other markets. When it comes to consumer information and market pressure, manufacturers cannot resist that, because they will be losing sales,” he said.
Furas said it was not even necessary to have mandatory vehicle testing or labels on a vehicle, because in the US when initially some cars were not tested, the sticker indicated they had not been tested.
Consumers reacted by not buying cars that were not tested, which caused an immediate reaction from manufacturers and after a few years all cars in the US market were tested, he said.
Khumalo and Furas were speaking at the launch last week of the second round of #SaferCarsForAfrica crash test results, with the support of the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The latest tests involved the Nissan NP300 Hardbody, Hyundai i20, Kia Picanto and Toyota Yaris, which highlighted the significant differences in the structural integrity of these vehicles.
Khumalo said the Nissan NP300 Hardbody produced the lowest scores of all tests completed to date and achieved zero stars.
“There should be no zero rated vehicles on our roads. Three vehicles priced lower than the Nissan produced three-star ratings for adult occupancy, indicating that safety does not have to be tied to price,” he said.
Wonga Mesatywa, a spokesperson for Nissan SA, said the safety of their customers was Nissan’s top priority and all their cars met or exceeded regulations in all countries in which they were sold.
The Yaris, Hyundai i20 and Kia Picanto all achieved three-star ratings of adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test at 64km/h.
The Yaris achieved a three-star rating and the Hyundai i20 and Kia Picanto a two-star ratings for child occupant protection.