First African car safety crash tests reveal wide range in performance

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(l-r) David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP, Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa, and Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation.
(l-r) David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP, Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa, and Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation.
Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, speaking at the Global NCAP and AA South Africa launch of #SaferCarsforAfrica.
Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, speaking at the Global NCAP and AA South Africa launch of #SaferCarsforAfrica.
David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP.
David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP.
Cars unveiled at the press conference in Cape Town.
Cars unveiled at the press conference in Cape Town.
Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa.
Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa.

Some of South Africa’s most popular new cars do not provide basic protection for passengers, revealed in the first independent African crash test assessment today (22 November).

At the Global NCAP and AA South Africa launch of #SaferCarsforAfrica, co-funded by the FIA Foundation, an international road safety charity, the five cars tested show a wide range of safety performances. The lowest ranking car, Chery QQ3, received a ‘zero stars’ rating, indicating a high probability of life-threatening injury in a road crash for both adult and child testing. Yet the best performer, the Toyota Etios, managed a creditable four stars.

The results are set against the ten year road death high in South Africa, with 14,071 people dying in 2016, a 9% increase on the previous year. Across the wider region, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest road injury rate in the world, despite relatively low motorisation, with 40% of all road deaths being car occupants. Globally, road traffic injuries are reported as the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.

The models tested include South Africa’s best-selling car, the VW Polo Vivo. The Datsun Go+, Toyota Etios, Renault Sandero and Chery QQ3 also underwent the safety assessment. Combined sales of these five cars account for around 65% of all the new cars sold in South Africa last year. Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model and as a result one of them was not fitted with air bags as standard. The results highlight differences in the structural integrity of the vehicles tested.

Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation said: “These first independent car crash tests in Africa are a safety milestone, which the FIA Foundation is proud to support. The range of results show that consumers have a real choice, and with access to the right information they can use purchasing power to reward carmakers who put safety first. If we are to reduce road traffic injuries here in South Africa, and contribute to the overall United Nations development target of halving road deaths globally, safer cars for Africa must be a top priority.”

Lauchlan McIntosh, Chairman of Global NCAP, said: “In 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a road safety resolution which recognised the important role NCAPs play as a catalyst for improving vehicle safety standards. The UN has sought to encourage the spread of NCAPs across the regions and automotive markets of the World and today, in Cape Town, I am delighted that Global NCAP is helping to achieve that goal with the launch of the first ever crashworthiness programme for cars sold in Africa. Global NCAP has provided assistance to launch similar programmes in South America, India and the ASEAN region, programmes which have led to the delivery of safer cars into those markets over the last five years.

“Working closely with our partners at the Automobile Association of South Africa and with the welcome support of the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropy, our new campaign is an important first milestone on the road to Safer Cars for Africa.”

Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa said: “The crash tests represent an important step in road safety in South Africa. We believe consumers have a right to know what the safety ratings are on the cars they want to buy. These results are critical to educating the public about vehicle safety, but, more than that, they empower road users to make informed decisions. In the same way emissions and green ratings are displayed on vehicles, we think safety ratings should also be displayed on vehicles, and we don’t believe this should be too much of a challenge to make happen.

“The involvement of Global NCAP, the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropy in bringing these results to Africa, indicates how seriously our partners view road safety, and it is incumbent on us, as South Africans, to consider road, and vehicle safety, in the same way.”

David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP said: “It is good to see a four star result in these first ever African crash test ratings. However it’s extremely disappointing that there’s a zero star car. Such a poor result shows why it is so important for countries like South Africa to fully apply the UN’s crash test standards.”