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Hyundai is appalled at LTSA airbag statement


Hyundai is appalled at LTSA airbag statement

Statement from Philip Eustace, General Manager of Hyundai Automotive New Zealand.

Hyundai is appalled at today’s call by the LTSA for cheaper airbags in new cars.

Once again the authority has selectively repeated an Australian news release without checking the facts here in New Zealand.

The fact is that Hyundai, for one, has incorporated airbags in every one of our new vehicles, at no extra charge, since April 2003. At the very minimum a new Hyundai has two airbags, many models have four or more.

Today we have LTSA advising New Zealanders to order airbags when they specify their new car, in a statement from principal vehicle safety engineer Andrew Justice: where is the justice in that, when you can’t actually buy a new Hyundai without airbags?

And we go further. As an acknowledged leader in safety initiatives, Hyundai Automotive New Zealand recently put our money where our mouth is, slashing the price of replacement airbags to cost with little margin. This is to help stamp out the fitting of bags from wrecked cars, a practice which is clearly unsafe although LTSA approved this standard. Frankly LTSA would better spend its time getting unsafe practices like this outlawed.

The irony is that today’s announcement from LTSA, based on an Australian report on side crashes, comes the same day as the release of major results from the European National New Car Assessment Programme, which, along with the American equivalent, is the respected leader in these matters. Once again we note LTSA’s head-in-the-sand attitude to international safety initiatives, reporting Australian crash tests while ignoring the overwhelmingly more important USA and European surveys which are accepted worldwide as the cornerstone of the vehicle industry.

Interestingly today’s ENCAP survey rates our Hyundai Getz, a top seller in New Zealand, at the top of the Supermini class, ahead of all other cars except one of Renault’s European models called the Modus.

We are proud of Hyundai’s record for safety introductions in New Zealand, outlined below.

The reality is that New Zealand continues to be flooded with imports of older used cars with safety components which can only be questionable, while Hyundai among others offers cost-effective brand new alternatives packed with safety features.

The LTSA itself recently released a survey which made the general conclusion that older cars are not as safe as modern ones, something which is surely glaringly obvious to most New Zealanders, certainly all Hyundai owners.

Yet we have seen little or no comment from LTSA on the sale of these vehicles with maybe one airbag, some without any at all … not to mention a total absence of the other safety features that come with every new Hyundai.

Indeed we had the recent situation where LTSA brought in an Australian professor who famously commented New Zealanders should not buy “any small car of Korean origin” while he himself drives a 1980s model station wagon. I criticised this statement in an open letter to the Minister of Transport Safety, to which I never received a reply. Copy attached.

All this at a time when LTSA is being lampooned for over-emphasis on speeding enforcement rather than other safety practices. I believe most New Zealanders would like to see the authority take a sensible stand on a wide range of safety initiatives … and to be honest Hyundai’s emphasis on safety features in vehicles would be a good place to start.

Hyundai is noted worldwide as a leader in safety initiatives, a factor in its position as number seven among automakers on target for the top five by the end of this decade.

Here in New Zealand our recent safety initiatives include:

An industry precedent of making twin front air bags and ABS braking with EBD standard in every single one of our new vehicles sold in New Zealand.

* Every new Hyundai sold in New Zealand today comes standard with a comprehensive Safety Pack including a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and high-visibility jacket, at no extra cost. Fully compliant with OSH regulations, this is an industry first.

As mentioned, recently we came out against the use of second-hand airbags and put our money where our mouth is on the price of new spares, slashing the cost of replacement airbags, typically to less than half, to help stamp out the fitting of bags from wrecked cars which is clearly unsafe although current laws allow the practice. Hyundai now supplies the entire industry with SRS components – airbags and control units – at cost price plus a nominal handling fee.

Hyundai calls on LTSA to concentrate on the real road safety issues in this country, and give some credit to those of us who are addressing the same.

I issue an open invitation to Mr Justice or his senior officer Andy Knackstead to join us on a trip to Hyundai’s R&D centre in South Korea to witness first hand a crash test and numerous other safety testing procedures. I am confident they will come away impressed.

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