NISSAN Australia has lashed out at ANCAP, labelling the safety watchdog’s criticism of its new Qashqai SUV as “disappointing and unfair”.
ANCAP awarded the new Qashqai (which replaces the popular Dualis) a maximum five-star safety rating this week, but criticised the car for failing to offer Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – a system ANCAP says is a key lifesaving technology.
“AEB is available on the European-sold Qashqai yet it is not available at all on Australian and New Zealand models,” said ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh.
“It is astounding to see yet another mainstream manufacturer despecify their models for our local market. Are lives in Australia and New Zealand worth less than those in Europe?”
The remarks drew a swift response from Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery, who in an exclusive interview with Wheels at the Qashqai’s local launch dismissed the comments as unwarranted.
“Firstly, our preference would certainly be to have AEB on the Qashqai and any of our new cars, but it simply wasn’t available to us,” he said.
“So the suggestion from them [ANCAP] that it was a conscious decision from us to delete that option simply isn’t right.
“The comments are disappointing from our perspective and they take focus away from the great score the Qashqai achieved in the ANCAP test.
“It has a significant list of safety technology and we believe it is the safety and technology benchmark in this category.”
Top-spec Qashqai’s feature the following safety technology: six airbags, park assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, around-view monitor, moving-object detection, driver-attention support and high-beam assist.
Emery said Nissan is going to extreme lengths to ensure AEB is fitted to its future models and said its exclusion from the Qashqai was simply due to engineering restrictions.
“It’s available in Europe, but not for the rest of the world,” he said.
“It’s not a financial decision, it’s simply to do with the engineering. There are some options available to us, and others that aren’t.”
And as for McIntosh’s comment that Nissan thinks Australian lives aren’t as important as those in Europe?
“I’d rather not comment on that emotional suggestion,” said Emery.
“All companies have a responsibility to make the safest car possible. A life is the same wherever it is in the world and there shouldn’t be any perception or suggestion otherwise.”