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Barina rethink

Rebadged: Holden's Barina hatch is based on Daewoo's discontinued Kalos.

Dismal crash test result hurts sales and forces Holden to reconsider its Barina plan

14 Jun 2006

HOLDEN is re-assessing the safety of its South Korean-built Barina following the light car’s dismal two-star Australian NCAP crash-test rating and a fall in sales last month.

Speaking at the launch of two new European-built Astra models in Canberra last week, GM Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney revealed that he was "concerned" by the bad publicity surrounding the GM Daewoo-sourced Barina’s NCAP performance.

He said the Australian results – which confirmed a Euro NCAP rating conducted in February – had come as a "surprise" to his technical staff and that Holden engineers were now working with Australian NCAP to examine discrepancies between the public test and the company’s own (confidential) internal results.

These engineers will also advise on whether "there is anything else we want to do" in terms of the Barina’s safety.

"I am concerned by the publicity," said Mr Mooney. "First of all, I was not surprised at the Australian NCAP results as the Euro NCAP results were very similar in Europe a couple of months earlier.

"But it was a little surprising to our technical community.

"We had a better internal result. Both tests are exactly precise yet there’s variation in the results.

"Let me say, though, I am very confident of the safety of the Barina. That’s one test.

13 center image"The car is a five-star (performer) over in North America – which is a different test. These (European and Australian) tests measure chest ‘G’ (forces), they measure head-impact criteria and physical intrusion ... and these are the kind of tests that end up in the consumer’s scorebooks, so to speak.

"I’m very confident where that vehicle is from a safety standpoint.

"It is a little misleading when you compare it to the old Barina, which was tested under a different test procedure, by the way. So there are a lot of variables here.

"I’m not trying to be defensive ... because the result is what it is. (But) we have been working with the Australian NCAP and our engineers ... to see if there is anything else we want to do."Mr Mooney would not be drawn on whether any changes would be made to the current car as a result.

"I drive the car," he said. "I have my daughter drive the car – and there is no problem.

"This car meets a lot of different safety requirements around the world."Nevertheless, Mr Mooney conceded that the poor crash-test publicity the Barina attracted last month when the Australian NCAP results were released had negatively impacted on sales.

In May the budget car managed just 806 sales, which was well down on its 2006 monthly average of more than 1200 units (May included) and lower than its European-sourced and more expensive predecessor achieved for the same month last year (823).

"There are two things from my perspective – we were, and still are, restricted with stock, and secondly we went from $12,990 to $13,490," said Mr Mooney.

"So a combination of price increase, shortage of cars, and some of the bad publicity we had, all contributed.

"It certainly wasn’t as strong a month as we’ve had in the first four months of the year."The Barina is based on the Daewoo Kalos and underwent engineering work at Holden before being released in Australia last December.

GM Holden is the majority shareholder in GM Daewoo, with a 42.1 per cent shareholding.

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