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Funding boost welcomed

The NZ Automobile Association is welcoming the Australian government’s decision to continue funding the work of independent vehicle safety consumer organisation ANCAP for another five years.
Stella Stocks

Stella Stocks, the AA’s general manager of motoring services

Stella Stocks, general manager of motoring services at the AA, which sits on ANCAP’s board, has welcomed the funding announcement. She says the money from Australia’s federal government is a welcome boost to the funds ANCAP receives from state-government agencies across the Tasman, the New Zealand government and motoring clubs in both countries. “The extra funding is a big boost for vehicle safety,” says Stocks.

The Government’s $6.64 million commitment to fund ANCAP for another five years will assist ANCAP to continue the role it plays in testing and assessing new cars, providing information for consumers about vehicle safety and general advocacy about safety on roads.

ANCAP Chief Executive James Goodwin noted the important role safer vehicles play in reducing road trauma. “Continued emphasis to elevate the safety of new vehicles – as well as to reduce the overall age of the nation’s registered vehicle fleet – are critical to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by serious crashes,” says Goodwin.

The Australian Government joined as a member of ANCAP in 2010 and is one of 23 member organisations including the Australian and New Zealand automobile clubs, all State and Territory Governments and the New Zealand Government.

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Top safety ratings for four vehicles

ANCAP Safety

Four new European vehicles are hitting the New Zealand market with 5 star safety ratings from the Australasia New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP).

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class ute, Jaguar E-PACE and BMW X2 SUVs, and the Volkswagen Polo car, all performed well across various crash scenarios and tests, providing high standards of safety for drivers and passengers.

AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says it’s great to see safety being prioritised across vehicle types.

“We’re pleased Kiwi drivers are being offered a wide range of safety technologies as standard features, no matter the vehicle type they’re looking to buy,” she says.

“Safety technologies help to prevent crashes on our roads and are a key step towards improving New Zealand’s driving environment.”

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class has autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a standard for the X-Class series. AEB can go a long a way in preventing a crash by automatically engaging the brakes of a vehicle when it senses a hazard within critical range. When tested, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class’s AEB system performed well, detecting and either avoiding or mitigating crashes with other vehicles at low and high speeds.

“This is a game-changer for the ute market and puts pressure on competing brands,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, Mr James Goodwin.

The Jaguar E-PACE features a “pop-up” bonnet and external airbag to provide better support to struck pedestrians. The BMW X2 also has a “pop-up” bonnet, as well as an automatic emergency call function and a fatigue detection system. 

The Volkswagen Polo gained a particularly high 96% score for the safety it provides adult drivers and passengers. This was the result of it receiving multiple perfect safety test scores, such as for its AEB system and side impact safety.

The full list of ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings, other vehicle safety information and the specifications of the rated vehicles are available online at ancap.co.nz or rightcar.govt.nz.

 

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AA supports 110km/h decision

The New Zealand Transport Agency has welcomed a 110km/h speed limit from the Cambridge Section of the Waikato Expressway and Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Roads.

Mike Noon, AA Motoring Affaird General Manager, says the AA supports the higher speed limit for both new roads because they have been designed to a much higher safety standard compared to other New Zealand roads.

“From a survey undertaken in August 2017, raising the limit to 110km/h on our safest roads was supported by 79% of AA Members,” says Mike.

“New Zealanders expect speed limits that sensibly reflect a road’s risk and these are two of the safest roads in the country so it makes sense to raise the speed limit on these roads.”

However this is not the case for all of our roads, and some of our older roads currently have limits that are too high and over time speed limits on these roads are likely to reduce. 

The two new roads that will have 110km/h limits are multi-lane highways, with a number of safety features including wide shoulders and median barriers to separate oncoming traffic as well as barriers on the left to prevent vehicles running off the road.

The new limits are consistent with speed limits on roads of the same quality in other countries around the world including Australia.

“The AA would also like to remind drivers that speed limits are not a target. The speed limit is the maximum speed you can travel in ideal conditions and in some situations you will find that you need to drive significantly slower than the posted speed limit,” says Mike.

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Petrol prices at their highest since 2015

A weaker New Zealand dollar has meant that petrol prices around the country have increased by 6 cents a litre in less than a week.

The major fuel companies raised the main port price of fuel by 3 cents a litre on Thursday night.

Now a further price increase has pushed petrol prices to the highest level in more than two years.

According to data collected by the Automobile Association (AA), petrol prices are now at their highest since July 2015.

The increase comes after the New Zealand dollar fell suddenly in the weeks post election, while oil product prices have also been steadily rising.

AA spokesman, Mark Stockdale, said while the first of the increases could be justified by a weaker New Zealand dollar and stronger commodity prices, there was no further move, which would warrant a second jump.

“The AA can’t see any justification for why prices have gone up another 3 cents. There’s been no further deterioration in the exchange rate or rising commodity prices to explain it,” Stockdale said.

“When fuel prices don’t move in relation to observed changes in commodity prices and the exchange rate, motorists deserve an explanation.”

The New Zealand dollar is stronger against the US dollar than it was at the start of the week, which would tend to lean in the favour of making petrol cheaper.

A spokeswoman for BP said the latest increase was “predominantly driven by an increase in the cost of product, and further movement in the exchange rate”.

 

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NZ nervous drivers

More than a third of New Zealanders feel unsafe while driving and most don’t have confidence in the ability of other motorists.

This is according to an AA Driving School survey which found that within seven days of driving 85 per cent of survey respondents witnessed other motorists exceeding the speed limit, 64 per cent saw motorists drift out of a lane or park inconsiderately and 63 per cent witnessed someone run a red light.

AA Driving School General Manager Roger Venn says this perception being reported by New Zealand motorists points to an incredible level of potentially lazy and dangerous driving taking place on our roads.

“One of the main reasons for the lack of confidence in other’s abilities is people claiming to see plenty of motorists ignoring basic road rules and road courtesies.

“If that’s the case, there is a real need for better education and enforcement of some of these driving basics,” he says.

Almost 3,000 AA Members responded to a survey on whether New Zealanders thought of themselves as considerate drivers and how the purpose of their driving affected their behaviour.

It found that New Zealand motorists were more likely to point the finger at others than recognise any of their own driving slip-ups.

“There’s a definite disconnect between the number of people driving badly and those taking ownership for it,” he says.

“If we were all driving as well as we think we are then confidence levels on the road would be a lot higher.”

AA Members rated feeling safe on the road and being aware of other road users as the two most important factors when driving, ahead of getting to a destination on time or being courteous to other road users.

“The survey also shows we need to do a lot more work when it comes to being courteous on the road,” says Mr Venn.

“We found that of the courtesies you can show while driving, motorists appreciate being thanked with a wave or similar gesture the most. The problem is not enough of us are doing it, or seeing it.”

Mr Venn says a large part of improving driving on the road, is to change the way we think about it.

“Driving is like any other skill, you need to put in the time and refresh your knowledge to ensure you’re not letting bad habits stick.

“We know experienced drivers struggle to consistently indicate, check blind spots, do their mirror checks, tailgate and avoid distraction from their phones – these are all bad habits that have crept into people’s driving routines.”

Mr Venn says the only way to recognise your own bad habits is to have someone hold up a mirror and tell you.

“Often that ends up being young people doing professional lessons, who then go home to mum and dad and call them out on the things they’re doing wrong.

“A simulated on road test, which replicates a driving test, or other types of professional driver training can also help motorists recognise and then work on the weaknesses in their skillset.”

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Car of the year awards on thin ice

A disagreement between the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild and the Automobile Association (AA), could jeopardise the future of the New Zealand Car of the Year awards.

The NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild wanted the Subaru Impreza hatch and SUV to be considered as one vehicle for this year’s voting, however the AA said the vehicles were not the same and had to be considered separately.

Media representatives argue that voting on the Impreza and XV as one vehicle is unfair as the Holden Astra is also offered as a hatch and sedan for instance. The Hyundai Ioniq is also offered as an electric vehicle (EV), a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.

AA motoring services general manager, Stella Stocks says the guild made the decision of which vehicles were to be selected in the top 10.

“The agreement has always been to select a list of top 10 finalists, however, the guild has pressed for two cars to be considered as one – the Subaru Impreza and the XV.

“Our position, which is supported by the Motor Industry Association and Subaru itself, is that they can’t be considered the same vehicle. One reason is because one is in the compact car category and the other is an SUV.”

Stocks says the AA was relaxed about which of the two cars was selected, or even both as separate contenders, but there could still only be a top 10, so another vehicle on the list would have to be removed.

Votes for the award are taking place currently and results will be announced in Auckland on December 12.

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Picking 2017’s NZ Car of the Year

Once again, the time of year has rolled around when the AA and the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild put their heads together to decide the New Zealand Car of the Year.

Members of the guild and AA judges who have driven the top 10 cars will independently rank each of them on a number of elements including value, design and quality – the best of which will become the 2017 New Zealand Car of the Year.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks says that this year the judges have their work cut out for them.

The Writers’ Guild president Robert Barry agrees, noting that the top 10 Car of the Year line up offers something for virtually every market segment.

“Each of the top 10 selections is a worthy contender for the ultimate Car of the Year award. It’s going to be a difficult choice for the judges this year,” Barry says.

The New Zealand Car of the Year finalists.

Stocks says that the top ten list indicates manufacturers are anticipating customers’ needs, and delivering vehicles to match.

“This year the top 10 line up represents a great cross section of new cars available to the market today from lower cost small cars loaded with technology to very practical and more expensive luxury vehicles,” Stocks says.

In alphabetical order, the top 10 finalists for the 2017 New Zealand Car of the Year are:

  • BMW 5 series
  • Holden Astra
  • Honda Civic hatch
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Skoda Kodiaq
  • Subaru XV
  • Suzuki Ignis
  • Suzuki Swift

The New Zealand Car of the Year is in two parts. The Car of the Year finalists were chosen by a panel earlier this month, and to be eligible, the car must have been released in the New Zealand market between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

The BMW i3. Electric vehicles have their own category for the first time in the 2017 New Zealand Car of the Year awards.

The Best in Class awards are selected from any new car on sale now in each category. This means a make and model released in previous years could beat out a newer car in its class.

The Best in Class categories are:

  • Micro/light car
  • Small/compact car
  • Medium/large car
  • Luxury car
  • Small SUV
  • Medium SUV
  • Large SUV
  • Luxury SUV
  • Utility
  • Sports
  • Electric vehicle/plug-in hybrid

The safest car for 2017 will also be announced at the December 12 the Car of the Year event at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland on December 12, as will the New Zealand Car of the Year People’s Choice award.

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2017 car safety guide released

AA has published their User Car Safety Ratings guide, updated for 2017.

Released today, the guide is the result of in-depth analysis by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) of real-world crash data collected in both New Zealand and Australia.

The guide is updated annually and now provides safety ratings on 279 used vehicles built between 1986 and 2015. This year, it lists 106 of them as good or excellent, and a further 113 are categorised as poor or very poor. 60 are considered marginal.

Ahead of the general election on 23 September, the AA is calling for vehicle safety information to be provided at the point of sale, similar to fuel economy information already available.

The Ford Mondeo is one of the AA’s picks for superior safety features.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks says New Zealand has a huge second-hand car market, and that the average age of used imports is increasing.

“This means the gap between the safety performance of used and new cars is widening.”

Stocks says that for many motorists the safety difference between cars is not immediately apparent, and there are important distinctions that consumer should have easy access to.

“Motorists, especially people buying cars for the first time, can easily be overwhelmed by what is available and can find it difficult to work out which factors they should consider most.”

Many of the poorest performing vehicles are often driven by novice drivers who are more likely to be involved in a crash.

Ministry of Transport data shows younger drivers are seven times more likely to crash than those with more experience behind the wheel.

Ms Stocks says while younger drivers will often have more modest budgets, they need the best protection.

“The guide shows which cars are the safest across all categories, which is why we want the information available at the point of sale. It enables buyers to consider safety performance of one vehicle against another before they get behind the wheel.

“Buyers can’t make the right choice without the right information.”

New car crash test results are provided by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP).

The work conducted by MUARC show that a driver of the worst-rated vehicle is more than 10 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as a driver in the best-rated vehicle.

Used Car Safety Ratings can be found on the AA’s website.

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AA urges to buy new

You are more likely to die in a crash if the car you’re travelling in was built before 2000.

(more…)

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Road safety week begins

Following on from a record low of 253 deaths in 2013 there have been three years in a row of increasing road deaths and the first four months of 2017 have continued that tragic trend.

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Three cars earn five-star ANCAP ratings

Hyundai i20

Four cars have been tested in the latest round of Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) safety ratings, with three of four receiving a five-star rating.

The Audi A5, Volvo S90 and Hyundai Ioniq hybrid all achieved the top rating. A second Hyundai model, the i20 hatch and crossover, only received four stars. This rating applies to vehicles released in New Zealand from December last year.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks said the result will be disappointing for consumers, and the Korean brand usually has a strong track record for car safety.

“Safety standards are rising, which means car markets need to push harder to meet consumer expectations,” Stocks said.

Most new cars come with crash prevention technology such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and emergency brake assist as standard. However, none of these are available on the i20.

The Hyundai hatch scored lower marks in child occupant protection, which was rated at 73 per cent, and safety assist, rated at 64 per cent. Adult occupant protection was rated at 85 per cent.

The other three cars were lauded for their safety features by ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin.

“Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and reversing collision avoidance are however standard on all variants of the new hybrid model introduced by Hyundai – the Ioniq. Lane support systems and a manual speed limiter are also standard features adding to its top safety credentials,” he said. The five-star rating applies to all vehicles produced from February this year.

Goodwin added that the advanced safety technologies on the Volvo S90 “performed extremely well, with complete collision avoidance in all scenarios and at all test speeds,” but noted the knee airbag, which is standard in European models, was not found in Australasian models. Volvo S90s sold after October 2016 fall under the five-star rating.

“High scores were also achieved by the Audi A5 which is equipped with an ‘active’ bonnet and advanced AEB system which can detect and avoid collisions with pedestrians,” Goodwin concluded. The rating applies to cars produced March onwards.

Safety specifications, however, do differ between the Australasian A5 models, with adaptive cruise control and lane support systems standard for New Zealand consumers but optional in Australia.

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