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Camry Hybrid, X240 receive four-star safety rating

Crunch: Great Wall's X240 scored the same 'good' ANCAP rating as Toyota's Camry Hybrid.

ANCAP awards four-star safety rating to Great Wall X240 and Toyota Camry Hybrid

27 Apr 2010

TOYOTA and Great Wall Motors have reacted very differently to the same four-star crash safety rating officially awarded today to two very different vehicles - the Japanese giant’s new Camry Hybrid and the pioneering Chinese brand’s X240.

The result represents a significant leap forward in the local safety credentials of Great Wall - the first and only Chinese vehicle brand to be available in Australia – following the widely publicised two-star safety rating awarded last year to the SA220 and V240 utilities by the independent vehicle safety body, Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Australian Great Wall distributor Ateco Automotive welcomed the four-star rating gained by the X240, a compact SUV based on the full-chassis Toyota 4Runner, which joined the brand’s two dual-cab utes on sale in Australia in October.

“This is the sort of result we were sure Great Wall would achieve soon after their entry to the Australian market,” said Ateco managing director Ric Hull. “We are encouraged both by this result and by the fact that Great Wall are already working on further improvements.”

Great Wall says it is “in Australia for the long haul and looks forward to ongoing work with Australia’s transport regulation authorities and ANCAP to ensure that safe, practical and competitively priced vehicles are available to the Australian motoring public”.

Meantime, Toyota has again defended the same less-than-maximum four-out-of-five-stars safety rating awarded to its new Camry Hybrid sedan.

Unlike the X240, the Camry Hybrid comes with six airbags and electronic stability control, which is required for a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, in addition to twin front airbags and anti-lock braking system (ABS).

However, the four-star crashworthiness score for Australia’s only locally built hybrid, which echoes that of other Australian-made Camry models, comes as no surprise.

61 center imageLeft: Great Wall X240. Below: Camry Hybrid.

Toyota Australia senior sales and marketing director David Buttner confirmed at the launch of the Camry Hybrid in February that Toyota would not fit the ground-breaking petrol-electric model with a driver’s knee airbag or passenger seatbelt warning function.

“At this juncture, with this current generation vehicle, frankly, to get a five-star rating we'd need to do two things,” he said earlier this year. “We'd need to have the seatbelt warning lamp and we'd need to have the driver's knee airbag.

“Due to the design and the componentry behind the (Camry) steering column, (it) is not possible to fit the driver’s knee airbag.”

Both safety features are required for the Camry to gain the same five-star safety rating as Toyota’s own closely related Aurion large sedan and other homegrown models like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

But that hasn’t stopped Toyota defending the Camry Hybrid’s sub-standard ANCAP safety rating, which falls short of the five-star results achieved by its most direct rivals in the Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty, for a second time.

Despite a history of advertising positive ANCAP test results for its vehicles, a statement issued today by Toyota Australia adhered to Australian auto industry policy of dismissing independent ANCAP safety testing on the basis that it is a one-off procedure that does not take into account active safety equipment such as ESC or ABS.

“Toyota Australia acknowledges ANCAP as one measure that can help consumers identify cars that are safe,” Toyota said in the statement.

“However, ANCAP does not test the life-saving benefits of features such as vehicle stability control, traction control and anti-skid brakes – all of which are standard on every Camry.

“Toyota Australia rejects as a distortion any suggestion that Camry models provide a level of safety that is the same as cars that do not offer such vital life-saving technology or have fewer than Camry’s standard six airbags.

“Toyota conducts an extensive range of tests on all its vehicles, providing a level of safety that meets or exceeds safety standards in every country in which they are sold.

“The Camry range of vehicles offers a comprehensive package of active and passive safety. Customers can drive these cars with confidence, knowing they have advanced safety features that have been shown to save lives.

“Toyota supports the development of long-term policies that enhance vehicle safety through a wide range of measures including the overall integration of vehicles, road infrastructure and driver ability.”

ANCAP chair Lauchlan McIntosh criticised the Camry Hybrid for failing to match the five-star result of the Aurion and achieving the same four-star result as the three-year-old Camry.

"The four-star result for Camry – which is the first of the environmentally-friendly vehicles to come off Toyota’s Australian production line – was the same result as the Camry tested by ANCAP in 2007.

"The Camry Hybrid’s stablemate, the Aurion, received a five-star rating last year and we think there was an expectation that this innovative vehicle would do as well," said Mr McIntosh, who commemded the X240 result.

"By contrast, the GWM utilities that we tested last November performed poorly and were only rated at two stars, so this new GWM X240 SUV is a significant leap forward."According to ANCAP, the structural and restraint systems in the X240 clearly performed much better in its latest tests than the V240 utility, which was the subject of a safety recall to fix seatbelts following ANCAP testing last November.

ANCAP said its Camry Hybrid crash test showed the driver’s knees were vulnerable to injury from the steering column, despite it being redesigned with a keyless ignition system.

"The Camry Hybrid also missed out on a passenger seatbelt reminder that is now standard in the Aurion as well as in all Commodores and Falcons," said ANCAP.

"Around one-fifth of all road deaths involve occupants not wearing seatbelts so a seatbelt reminder is a very important safety feature."

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