Suzuki defends the safety of their cars, following import ban reports
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A move earlier this week to ban 'unsafe used imports' from Japan has faced plenty of backlash, with commentators and car dealers (and Driven) questioning the clarity or logic behind the push.
Centre to those criticisms was the unclear definition of what constituted an unsafe car, with the likes of the Suzuki Swift (2004–2016), Mazda Demio (1996–2014), and Toyota Corolla (pre-2008) included as examples. Many of these models come with four or five-star ANCAP safety ratings.
Now, Suzuki New Zealand has issued a statement responding to the potential ban.
“There is clear confusion over how older vehicles are being safety assessed,” said General Manager Suzuki New Zealand general manager Gary Collins.
“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.”
As reported previously, the New Zealand Transport Agency utilises ANCAP ratings for vehicles that are seven years old and newer, but older cars are ranked according to the New Zealand Government's Used Car Safety rankings based in part around local data.
Where the confusion lies is in how a car's rating is arrived upon in the Used Car Safety scheme. The 2011–2016 Suzuki Swift, for example, is a five-star ANCAP safety rated car, but merely a one-star safety rated car according to USC.
The first generation Suzuki Swift bizarrely scores a USC rating of two stars, despite being less safe than the more modern second-generation model on paper. Amusingly, the 2002 Volkswagen Polo scores a three-star rating with the USC, despite only coming with just two airbags as standard compared to the far newer second-gen Suzuki Swift's much higher count of seven.
It's unexplained anomalies like that which cast doubt on the legitimacy of the science behind USC, and potentially shines a light on its source data being skewed against models that are more prolific (and thus end up in more crashes) on Kiwi roads.
And, as previously reported, there's also confusion around whether the USC considers the assortment of models that arrive from Japan without all of the safety technology featured in their ANCAP and NCAP tests.
“We strongly support the improvement in safety standards of vehicles on our roads and specify our new vehicles with the latest safety technology,” added Suzuki New Zealand in their statement.
“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.