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MG to fix three-star NCAP MG3

Testing times: The MG3 hatchback received a three-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating back in 2014.

New MG models promise five-star safety performance after MG3 disappoints

31 Oct 2016

MG MOTOR executives have admitted it was not “optimal” to launch the MG3 hatchback in Australia with a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, but insisted the Chinese-owned car-maker would work to address the crash test concerns and pledged that future models would achieve a perfect score.

Tested in Europe in 2014, the MG3 light hatchback scored an adult protection rating of 69 per cent despite being equipped with dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags – as are standard on the $13,990 version locally.

A Mitsubishi Mirage tested a year earlier achieved 90 per cent, while even MG’s larger MG6 small/medium liftback scored only 73 per cent for a four-star rating.

Company executives visiting Australia from Chinese parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) blamed the age of the vehicles which, despite being introduced in Australia this year, are now more than three years old on the global market.

“For an old model basically like on the market for a few years, if you want a relatively old model to meet today’s NCAP standard which is growing, updating, there is a time gap of lag behind somehow,” according to SAIC Motor vice-president Lan Qingsong.

“We are trying to catch up this in terms of how better to comply with the updated rules and regulations or safety standards the customer needs. We are doing our utmost to whatever model … we bring to local market, we have full confidence we are able to meet the strict local standard such as NCAP five star.”

Mr Qingsong said only since the MG brand entered the Australian market in a failed initial bid three years ago did SAIC “understand that in a market like Australia people pay such significant attention to ANCAP three star, or five star”.

“So now we have this feedback … we have the technicality and the capacity to meet the standards but we are also very confident with the launch of the next-generation type of new models will meet safety (requirements),” he continued.

SAIC Motor general manager of international business Yang Xiaodong also defended the safety of current MG vehicles, however, adding that an NCAP rating is only one judgment of safety.

“First this car (MG3) is safe … but it depends on how you view safety,” he said, speaking via a translator.

“China safety, we meet five star (but) Australia follows Europe, so this is the different aspects of the safety, but we also very seriously consider how we can in future meet Australian, not just China (standards).”

Mr Xiaodong also hinted that some customers around the world were not prepared to pay extra for additional safety equipment, adding that SAIC had employed an Australian third-party research company to look at customer buying preferences in the light and small car segments.

“Gradually we’ll find a way how to meet customer requirements (and) understand how much that customer wants to pay this extra,” he said.

Mr Xiaodong added that in Europe it depended on how much extra people wanted to pay for safety features.

“Initially when we considered our (Australian) market entry strategy, we consulted a third-party for advice. As you can appreciate the third party we at SAIC hired is one of the most credible consultancy companies in the auto industry.

“Based on our marketing research, the young generation want driving fun and also the unique styling (of MG3) gives maximum personalisation and price.”

Mr Xiaodong also said Australia was viewed similarly to the United Kingdom inside the company, and “we also compare notes with ourselves back in the UK” where he claimed sales have soared.

“Looking back maybe it’s not an optimal market entry strategy,” he confessed of the decision to launch here with a three-star-rated vehicle.

“But if you look back at that stage when were in that specific period maybe (it was) a good, balanced way to enter the local market. The good thing about this is after testing this water, and then we realise the core requirement or the key component the Australian consumer is looking at, we know that, okay, now you want this premium, our perspective five-star.

“We can easily adapt or apply our technicality to catch up with those aspects.”

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