Carmakers accused of misleading consumers over crash test results

The ACCC is being urged to improve standards on date-stamping crash tests results.

The ACCC is being urged to improve standards on date-stamping crash tests results. Photo: Getty

Is your new car five-star safe?

Despite what you read on the website and advertising of vehicle brands and their dealers, it might not be.

That’s because many are ignoring a requirement to date stamp the crash results of their vehicles achieved under the ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) independent testing protocols.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin said brands who don’t date stamp were “probably not” behaving ethically.

Date stamping is important because ANCAP testing has become steadily tougher over recent years, so the more recent the year of testing the safer the vehicle is judged to be.

New for 2018, ANCAP requires a vehicle to be available with life-saving autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane support systems, such as lane keep assist, to be eligible to be tested for five stars.

Many brands don’t date stamp when reporting ANCAP ratings, but Hyundai stands out because it has just launched its updated Tucson SUV, which does not offer AEB on its base models.

Within the section of its public website devoted to the new Tucson under the section “All eyes on safety”, it reads “The Tucson has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating”.

The assumption would easily be made the new Tucson has a 2018 ANCAP safety rating, but in actual fact it is referring to a rating gained in 2015 before AEB was a requirement. There is no date stamping or clarification of the five-star claim.

“Is it ethical? It is certainly not right,” Mr Goodwin said.

“We should be as honest and transparent as we can be.

“Honesty generally in life is respected, so is it ethical? Probably not? But it is certainly not the right thing to do.”

Showing how haphazard application of date stamping is, a Hyundai publicising the new Tucson does specify it has a 2015 ANCAP rating.

Because the issue is so widespread ANCAP has urged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to crack down and issue mandatory guidelines.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing too many brands picking and choosing when they want to display an ANCAP rating,” Goodwin said.

“What I am calling for is regulations to be put in place and it should be the ACCC that does this.”

Failing that Mr Goodwin urged the industry itself to act.

“They should at least develop an industry code to provide guidance to the dealerships on displaying safety ratings,” he said.

Hyundai refused to comment when contacted, but it is understood it is auditing its publications to ensure it date stamps all references to ANCAP scores.

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