NZ market misses out on Nissan safety feature

02:27, Jul 15 2014
Nissan Qashqai
MISSING GEAR: Nissan's Qashqai will be missing the Autonomous Emergency Braking feature available in Europe when it is sold in Australia and New Zealand.

Nissan is leaving a potentially life-saving safety feature in Europe off a car it sells here, and an Australian safety group wants to know why.

"Are lives in Australia and New Zealand worth less than those in Europe?" Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) chairman Lauchlan McIntosh asked.

The Nissan Qashqai was given a five-star safety rating by ANCAP yesterday, the highest rating available, but was let down in one regard.

McIntosh said his organisation was concerned the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) available on the European-sold Qashqai, was not available at all on New Zealand and Australian models.

AEB uses sensors to detect when a car is getting too close to a vehicle in front of it and automatically applies the brakes to help avoid, or reduce the seriousness of, a crash.

Automobile Association motoring services general manager Stella Stocks said it made little sense for AEB to be omitted from cars sold in New Zealand.

"This technology can save lives by helping to prevent crashes and I'm not sure why we're missing out in New Zealand when it is available on European versions of the Qashqai," she said.

Safety assist technologies standard on the Qashqai include hill-launch assist, reversing-collision avoidance and lane support (on some variants), she said.

A statement from Nissan Australia that operates Nissan New Zealand, was quick to point out the Qashqai scored 36.56 out of 37 for its five-star rating but did not say why the AEB technology was not available in Australasia.

"This technology, as fitted to this model, is currently confined to the European market," it said.

"During planning for the local-market release of the Qashqai, Nissan Australia requested AEB for this model but it was, and remains, unavailable for our market.

"Nonetheless, Nissan Australia will continue working to have it fitted to this vehicle in the future."

ANCAP also released safety ratings for two other vehicles.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class scored a five-star rating with good crash test performance and a suite of standard safety-assist technologies including standard AEB across all models and an active bonnet for improved pedestrian protection.

The seven-seater Ssangyong Stavic fell short of the the highest mark and was given a four-star rating.

"A number of factors limited the Stavic to four stars including its average performance in the frontal offset crash test and the lack of head-protecting side curtain airbags," McIntosh said.

Results from the frontal offset test of the Stavic showed chest and upper and lower leg injuries were likely for the driver, he said.

Structural integrity was lost at the lower A-pillar and movement of the brake pedal was excessive, he said.

Stocks said there was no excuse for manufacturers to design and build less-safe vehicles.

"Consumers should expect more from manufacturers than what the Stavic offers and I hope we'll see some improvement in the next model and inclusion of head-protecting curtain airbags in the current model soon."

* ANCAP is supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government, Australian state and territory governments, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, NRMA Insurance and the FIA Foundation.