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South East Asian crash tests reveal poor protection for region’s children

Tristan Honeywill

Car buyers in South East Asia can now check the safety of their vehicles as a new NCAP safety organisation starts crash testing. ASEAN NCAP has assessed seven new cars for the first time in the region and most fell short on protection for young families.

ford fiesta frontal crash test

ASEAN version of Ford Fiesta gets five star safety rating

The crash tests focused on the most popular small family cars in Malaysia, the Phillipines and Singapore. Versions of the Honda City and Ford Fiesta did best, both getting five star ratings for their adult occupant protection and above-average scores for child protection.

The results revealed a significant gap between the best and the worst, however. The Toyota Vios and Nissan March missed out on five-star ratings only because they do not fit electronic stability control (ESC). The Perodua Myvi, Hyundai i10 and Proton Saga did much worse, receiving three, two and single-star ratings respectively.

The tests are not as extensive or challenging as those conducted in other parts of the world. For now, there’s just one frontal offset crash test at 64km/h using Hybrid III 50th percentile dummies in the front seats and two child dummies – a P3 and a P1.5 – in the back.

Protection for children did not inspire much confidence in these models (produced in Malaysia and Thailand for the ASEAN market). The Honda City received 81%, the Fiesta 66% but the others all got roughly 50%.

Looking at the scoring, it seems everybody started with 24% just by recommending Britax Duo Plus and Baby Safe Plus SHR II child seats. There must be something more constructive they can do in this section of the test. This is a massive opportunity to educate consumers, not just to encourage changes in car design.

The Toyota, Nissan, Perodua, Proton and Hyundai otherwise did poorly in the dynamic test that looked at injury criteria in the child dummies and poorly in the part of the assessment that looked at ISOFIX and top tether points.

The competition to improve safety should be swift. This is a region where car sales are growing quickly and where Chinese manufacturers would like to build exports. China’s stricter domestic safety requirements prepare them well for competition against established global brands with relaxed attitudes.

There are already at least another seven cars planned for the second phase of ASEAN NCAP’s tests that will run April-June. A side impact test at 50km/h similar to UNE95 is also planned for the future.

ASEAN NCAP is part of the Global NCAP organisation which is coordinating efforts around the world to drive progress in safety standards. Global NCAP’s secretary general David Ward said: “Consumers expect the same levels of safety as people in other regions. ASEAN NCAP’s results show it’s possible to produce affordable cars with the top level of safety for emerging markets, however, the disparity with those models at the lowest end of the scale is worrying.”  

Looking at the way the child protection scoring, it seems everybody started with 24% just by recommending Britax child seats. There must be something more constructive they can do … this is a massive opportunity to educate consumers, not just to encourage changes in car design

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