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Consumers confused by car safety ban proposals

Proposals to ban the importation of some older used cars based on varying safety standard issues have confused many New Zealanders, according to Suzuki New Zealand. Suzuki was responding to assertions that certain old model Swifts may be among the models likely to be banned if the proposals are adopted.

“There is clear confusion over how older vehicles are being safety assessed,” said Gary Collins, General Manager of Automobile Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. There is also a lack of information for customers on the difference in specifications between New Zealand new vehicles and used import models that often have lower safety equipment levels.

No Swift models imported by Suzuki New Zealand as new vehicles that have gone through the ANCAP crash testing procedure has had an ANCAP crash rating of less than 4 stars.

The New Zealand Transport Agency references the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) crash testing procedure as a safety rating until cars are seven years old. Cars older than this are rated on the New Zealand Government’s Used Car Safety, with ratings based in part on data from local crashes.

“There has been little reference to the fact that the recent discussions on vehicle safety are not based on the internationally recognised ANCAP safety ratings which is what all new vehicles are judged on. Obviously, this alternative rating for earlier model cars is much more subjective than the rigorous and highly regulated ANCAP crash testing with results not reflecting the international ANCAP standard,” said Collins.

This could in part be explained by the inclusion of lower specified used import models within the Used Car Safety rating.

The 2011 New Zealand new Swift had the highest possible safety rating when launched, with assessments including adult occupant protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist. The model’s 5-Star safety package included ABS with EBD, ESP, 7 airbags and high strength body design that rated the car top of its class for safety.

Suzuki has continued to upgrade the safety of its award-winning Swift with each successive model and the latest generation launched in 2017 boasts a top ranking in independent new car safety standards, with all automatic versions achieving a maximum 5 Star ANCAP rating.

The 5-Star level offers a high degree of protection and survivability for the head, body and legs of both driver and passenger. The safety of a car is based on the three key areas of structural integrity, safety features and safety assist technologies, and ANCAP recommends buyers choose 5 Star rated vehicles.

Latest features on the current Swift include a light but efficient HEARTECT high technology platform that uses ultra-high tensile steel so structural rigidity is not compromised.

Many of the latest generation Swift models, including the Swift Sport, has state of the art safety, with certain accident avoidance features not found as standard on larger, more expensive new cars. These models have an advanced forward detection system with a monocular camera, laser, and millimetre wave radar, adaptive cruise control, high beam assist, lane departure waning, weaving alert, and dual sensor brake support.

We strongly support the improvement in safety standards of vehicles on our roads and specify our new vehicles with the latest safety technology. Our suggestion is that customers ensure they gain a clear understanding of the specifications of the models they purchase, especially for used import models, and we recommend they include ESC plus side and curtain airbags.

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