We can’t compromise on car safety

We are looking at the scary safety ratings of cars being sold into developing markets.  As the eyes of Britain’s motorists were focused on Chancellor’s  latest assault on diesel drivers, it was easy to miss another story of arguably more far-reaching significance. Down in South Africa, the results of the first-ever crash test programme conducted by Global NCAP in conjunction with AA South Africa were published.

Here in Europe, we’ve become accustomed to the work of Euro NCAP, whose testing regime has undoubtedly produced safer cars for us all to enjoy over the decades. Mercifully, other parts of the world are finally catching up. But those first results from Cape Town didn’t make for pretty reading. Among the five cars assessed, which accounted for 65 per cent of new car sales in South Africa last year, were the Datsun GO+, awarded one star for adult occupant protection, and the Chery QQ3, shamefully given no stars, with the vehicle structure rated “unstable”.

To succeed in developing markets, makers have to build vehicles to a budget. That’s a given. But what I can’t accept is that this has to compromise the safety of owners. Yet we’ve seen results like this before in South America, and now the problem is apparent in Africa. Surely that’s unacceptable in 2017? The car industry is becoming more globalised – at the Frankfurt Motor Show I chatted to the R&D boss of the QQ3’s maker Chery, who talked about his brand’s desire to extend its influence in all regions. But every maker operating globally has a minimum responsibility to every customer everywhere: to keep them safe. A life is a life, after all, whether buyers are in Beverly Hills, Birmingham or Bangladesh. Here in Britain, we’re lucky (although diesel drivers may not feel that way at the moment) because our cars are inherently safe. It’s time every driver across the world was able to say the same.

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