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Open letter to Land Transport NZ

14 July 2005

Open letter from Philip Eustace, General Manager of Hyundai Automotive New Zealand, to Mr Wayne Donnelly, Chief Executive and Director of Land Transport New Zealand

cc Minister of Transport Safety
Spokespersons on Transport Safety, all major political parties
Media

Herewith a copy of a letter sent today to Land Transport New Zealand. It is
open for your use, in whole or part. I am available for further comment.

Philip Eustace


Dear LTNZ

I write in exasperation at your continued use of inaccurate and totally misleading safety standards information in this country.

Again recently you have made public pronouncements based on wholly inappropriate Australian ANCAP tests.

As I have pointed out previously these standards, while of some interest, vary from those considered to be benchmark standards worldwide, and more importantly they simply do not relate to the majority of vehicles in New Zealand.

On numerous new models, Hyundai and other brands, you parrot Australian findings based on models sold there with safety specs such as one airbag whereas the NZ model will have two or more airbags plus ABS braking. The difference is so huge as to discredit your information entirely.

Yet again recently in a major public statement you directed prospective NZ vehicle buyers to the ANCAP crash test result website. With little more than a cursory reading, this suggests there are very few vehicles anyone should drive.

I would remind you that from around 1990 two-thirds of the cars registered new in NZ are ex Japanese second hand imports. The ANCAP tests are only for new cars sold in Australia.

The seriousness of the issue is compounded by your stance on behalf of NZ government agencies. For example OSH in its guideline for vehicles refers to your website and suggests that companies should purchase vehicles with three or more stars in the ANCAP tests. However with very few vehicles tested, even fewer current models and most with inferior spec to NZ standard, there is little relevance in the ANCAP information. Indeed using OSH criteria there are only five current model mainstream vehicles that meet the recommendations. Is this seriously your recommendation to NZ government agencies and the NZ public?
As I’m sure you are well aware the South Korean brand Hyundai takes a leading stance on safety issues so we feel we are qualified to comment. We regularly see our vehicles gaining four-star and five-star star ratings in the major global tests (in USA and Europe) yet marked down on false information here in NZ.

One pertinent example: the fabulous little Hyundai Getz, NZ’s biggest seller in the popular micro and light market last year and praised by media and others in this country for its safety standards, gains four stars in the European tests. But the Australian ANCAP test looks only at a model with one airbag, NOT a model sold in NZ, and gives the Getz a three-star result. This is the information you are endorsing and indeed delivering to NZ families and organisations. Are you serious about your rating of Getz, a major New Zealand vehicle? If so, how do you justify it? If not, when will you correct this information … and all the rest?

This is the third time in the past year I have found it necessary to write criticising your endorsement of ANCAP and your misleading information.

In December mistakes in airbag information you released revealed your head-in-the-sand attitude to international safety initiatives, again 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.

Hyundai has in recent times introduced some significant safety initiatives:

2003 Minimum ABS, dual front airbags, pretensioners and load limiters on front seatbelts as standard on all passenger vehicles.

2003 First aid kit, fire extinguisher, and visibility vest in all passenger vehicles.

2005 Electronic Stability Program (ESP) introduced on Sonata and Tucson range (priced from $29,990). Previously only available on luxury or high-end priced cars.

By September 2005 all Hyundai passenger cars will have a minimum of four airbags.

The time has come for action. Let me state my own, and Hyundai’s, preparedness to work with this government or any future government to correct these deep-seated flaws in what ought to be trustworthy official information delivered by its agencies to the New Zealand public.

Philip Eustace
General Manager
Hyundai Automotive New Zealand

ENDS

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