Chinese Automaker Haval Chagrined by Safety Rating

The H9 scored well on side-impact and whiplash protection but not well enough in the frontal-offset test to merit a top 5-star rating. Lower-leg protection was marginal, and there was a slight risk of serious chest injury for the driver.

Alan Harman, Correspondent

June 2, 2016

3 Min Read
Chinarsquos topselling SUV stopped short of top safety rating
China’s top-selling SUV stopped short of top safety rating.

A shocked Haval Australia says it’s going back to the drawing board after its new H9 SUV achieved only a 4-star result from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program in the first-ever independent crash test of the premium Chinese model.

ANCAP says the H9 scored well in the areas of side impact and whiplash protection, but did not perform well enough in the frontal-offset test to merit a top 5-star rating.

Lower-leg protection was marginal and there was a slight risk of serious chest injury for the driver.

Haval product specialist Andrew Ellis says the unexpected result has spurred the automaker to improve the rating.

“Our engineers have been working very hard to deliver a 5-star safety rating and all our testing indicated that we would achieve this result,” Ellis says in a statement. “The results of the ANCAP test were clearly unexpected.”

To achieve five stars, a score of 32.5 points is required overall. The H9 achieved 30.7 points.

It was the frontal test that saw the H9 downgraded.

ANCAP gave the H9 12.05 points out of 16 for the frontal-offset test and 16 out of 16 for the side-impact test. It needed a 12.5-point score in the frontal test to be eligible for five stars.

“Safety will never be an option on Haval and we will be looking to test the H9 as soon as possible in conjunction with ANCAP,” Ellis says.

Haval launched its first SUV in China in 2002 and claims the title of being the premier SUV manufacturer in the world’s biggest automobile market. It has been China’s top-selling SUV brand for 13 consecutive years.

It has invested heavily in a new, state-of-the-art technical center in Baoding and new manufacturing plants at Tianjin and Xushui capable of producing 1.8 million SUVs a year.

The H9 was introduced in Australia last October and the ANCAP safety rating applies to all variants.

“New-vehicle buyers have come to expect 5-star safety from new models and unfortunately this result falls short of marketplace expectations,” ANCAP CEO James Goodwin says in a statement. “This is the first rating for the Haval brand in Australia following its entry to the local market last year and the first independent safety rating for the H9 in the world.”

As the H9 is being marketed as a premium offering, Goodwin says, “We would expect a vehicle in this price range to offer a greater range of advanced safety features and improved crash performance.”

The H9 is the largest of the three SUVs being sold by Haval, the premium nameplate of China’s Great Wall Motors.

“The large-SUV category is extremely competitive and there are now 5-star options from almost all brands at varying price points,” Goodwin says. “It’s hoped this (ANCAP testing) process draws new entrants’ attention to the importance of safety and a 5-star rating in Australia.”

Great Wall Raising Profile in Australia, New Zealand

Meantime, Great Wall says it is taking control of its Australian and New Zealand operations on July 1 and will re-enter the market with an all-new Great Wall utility.

Managing Director Parker Shi says the company will be headquartered in Melbourne, sharing offices with sister company Haval Australia.

The Australian and New Zealand operation, which takes over from Australian importer Ateco, will be headed by Tony Carraturo as general manager.

“As demand for utilities continues to grow, Great Wall Motors decided now was the time to take the brand to the next level by establishing a direct OE presence here,” Shi says in a statement.

“We are having discussions with the entire Great Wall dealer network and we are confident the vast majority will become part of the new business.”

Shi says the new Great Wall pickup will go on sale early in the fourth quarter.

The lineup will be headed by an all-wheel-drive turbodiesel matched to a 6-speed manual transmission, Borg Warner torque on demand and Eaton differential lock.

Safety features will include electronic stability control and six airbags as standard equipment.

Shi says Great Wall will focus solely on light commercial vehicles, with HAVAL concentrating on SUVs.

“We are confident this strategy will allow both companies to dedicate their resources into the two fastest-growing segments in the Australian automotive market,” he says.

 

About the Author(s)

Alan Harman

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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