Crash test results slam Nissan

The difference in safety performance between Nissan NP300 Hardbody models may be a matter of life and death.
The AA has been wanting to get the safety ratings of all vehicles sold in SA displayed on vehicles in dealer showrooms since at least November 2018. Image: Shutterstock

Alarming differences in the safety of two Nissan bakkies, one available in Africa and the other produced for the European market, have been exposed in a first-of-its-kind car-to-car crash test by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP).

The results have prompted Global NCAP, the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) and the FIA Foundation in the UK to question whether there are double standards for vehicles in the African and European markets.

Read: Is your vehicle road safe?

The FIA Foundation is an independent registered charity that supports an international programme of activities promoting road safety, the environment and sustainable mobility.

In the test, Global NCAP crashed the 2019 Nissan NP300 Hardbody, the best-selling pick up model in Africa, into a second-hand Nissan Navara NP300 manufactured in Europe in 2015.

Global NCAP CEO and president David Ward said this was a very dramatic car-to-car crash test that uniquely illustrates the double standard.

He added that the difference in crashworthiness is extraordinary.

“The new Nissan Hardbody performs significantly worse than the second-hand Nissan Navara, to the extent that the driver in the new African Nissan would likely have died from their injuries but the driver [in] the second-hand European Nissan would have walked away.

“A new car in Africa is not necessarily a safer car. Second-hand imported cars from regions with tougher regulatory requirements for safety, and environmental performance, can offer consumers much greater protection. ”  

Watch the crash test film here:

 

Responding to a request for comment on the crash test results, Nissan South Africa executive director corporate affairs Wonga Mesatywa said Nissan’s number one priority is the safety of its customers.

“We are committed to the highest safety standards in every single market where we operate, without exception.

“The locally produced NP300 Hardbody meets all safety regulations within Africa, where it has built a strong reputation over many years for reliability and customer satisfaction.

“Nissan continues to introduce advanced safety technologies and features into our global product range, including Africa, and we actively encourage and support  advancements in safety regulations and requirements for the benefit of our customers,” he said.

A matter of life and death

But Global NCAP said the difference in safety performance between the new African model and the second-hand European version is a matter of life and death.

It said the crash test dummy driver in the new African Nissan will have likely sustained fatal injuries while the driver of the equivalent second-hand European model would have likely walked away from the crash.

Global NCAP said the second-hand European car is fitted with the lifesaving crash avoidance anti-skid system, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), while the new African version is not fitted with these systems.

The results of the test were released to coincide with this week’s 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Sweden, where both of the crashed vehicles will be on public display as part of the ‘People’s Exhibition’ in Stockholm Central Railway Station.

Zeroes stars for safety

The Nissan NP300 was previously tested by Global NCAP in 2018 as part of the #SaferCarsForAfrica campaign and received a zero-star safety rating.

The vehicle structure collapsed and was found to be unstable during the test, with Global NCAP stating that the high forces placed on the crash test dummy pose a significant risk of fatal injury. 

The NP300’s bodyshell was so unstable that the airbags were ineffective, it said.

The Nissan Navara NP300 was previously tested by Euro NCAP in 2015 and achieved a four-star adult occupant rating.

AA CEO Willem Groenewald said on Tuesday that these results are extremely worrying and point to a major deficiency in the quality of vehicles available in Africa.

Groenewald said the AA has for a long time been concerned that vehicles available in Africa are inferior to those in other markets, such as Europe and Asia, and these results seem to confirm that concern.

‘Complete disdain’

“What this car-to-car crash also demonstrates is a complete disdain for African vehicle consumers and their safety [in the interests] of profit.

“It also again highlights the need for stricter regulation of standards and tougher controls in terms of allowing these inferior vehicles onto African roads,” he said.

Groenewald added that the AA endorses Ward’s sentiments that higher safety-rated second-hand vehicles are a better option than lower-rated new vehicles, especially in light of these poor results, which clearly show the devastating impact on families and society of inferior models that are sold in Africa.

In the words of FIA Foundation executive director Saul Billingsley:

“Does Nissan believe an African life is worth less than a European life?”

He added: “If not, how does the company explain the shocking safety gap between these two vehicles demonstrated by Global NCAP?

“If we are to meet the 2030 target of halving road deaths we must stamp out this kind of unethical behaviour by some in the car industry,” he said.

Read: Road Accident Fund hits the wall

The AA in July last year released its latest Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report, which found that only four of 27 entry level vehicles in South Africa tested had safety affordability levels that were regarded as acceptable.

The AA is involved in an initiative with Global NCAP to provide consumers with information to enable them to make better purchasing choices.

The association confirmed in November 2018 that it is engaging with the Department of Transport in a bid to get the safety ratings of all vehicles sold in the country displayed on vehicles in dealer showrooms.

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Could be the quality of steel used here?

Safety & comfort features fitted & labour costs of the county of manufacture play a role in price.

Nevertheless, why are we all comparing bakkies in Africa to European spec models?? Most Europeans have never seen a double cab truck in the flesh! 😉 A small % of the EU ‘commercial’ market relates to pickup-trucks….they use ENCLOSED PANELVANS (e.g. FIAT Ducato, Merc Sprinter, Ford Transit,etc.). It rains in Europe.
And for the ‘lifestyle’ segment its mostly SUV’s….a ‘bakkie’ is hardly seen. For starters, its turning circle will be a pain on small euro inner-city roads. Try to parallel park with D-cab, euro style, bumper to bumper…and by the time you managed the parking-maneuver, 2 Smart Cars have already taken your bakkie’s spot *lol*

D-Cabs are meant for the plains of Africa, US & Australia (and Japan, if it’s a Bburago toy model…)

I don’t know if I am getting it wrong but it looks as though you are defending Nissan SA.

#@leonspies. Glad nie so nie, meneer…

It applies also to other some brands. For some years now (due to reducing affordability of S’Africans) we have been sourcing new cars (mostly at the bottom end) from Suzuki India (Swift/Celerio), Hyundai India (…yes, those i10’s & i20’s are assembled in Chennai), Toyota Yaris from Thailand/Malaysia, Isuzu D-Max from Thailand Toyota plant, Ford Figo also India assembled. And so also Datsun Go & Renault Kwid.

SA’s car models arrive cheaper from the East (assembled for 3rd world market) than if say assembled in Europe for the same brand’s developed markets (or even if made in protected SA itself = due to inefficiency of labour).

Taxes make RSA vehicles very expensive compared to other countries. In order make the vehicle cheaper they cut corners on safety and materials. But most of the SA public don’t mind, they only look at price and not safety features.

The Navara and HardBody are two entirely different models. Imagine VW Polo and VW Golf. Look at price difference. If this were a case of the african Navara being a killer and the European Navara not, there would be a story.

The point is that the safety features installed in cars for Europe are better than those installed for Africa because of the stricter safety requirements in Europe compared to the African market

I have always found it strange that most of the car manufacturers don’t offer the African market some features they offer to the European or Australian markets. Toyota is a good example of such a manufacturer. The Sahara Land Cruiser sold in Australia has better features than the VXR V8 made for the African market.

Good observation Johan! But safety specs in Europe is higher than in the rest of the world. Did the Ford Mustang not make Europe Specs a few years ago? It had to be strengthened to make it in Europe.

Fair enough Johan, but it is still not acceptable to have a car sold in SA with a 0 NCAP rating, doesn’t matter the model.

The minibus is not a dangerous vehicle it is just driven dangerously.

You can take the safest vehicle in the world, supposedly a Volvo, give it to a driver who mounts pavements, disregards all the rules of the road, solid lines, lanes, overtaking, overloads, blind corners and rises and that driver will kill people and himself.

U- turns from the left side of one road into the right lane of opposite road…..f idiooote

Yep.its not about the vehicle, its the human behind the wheel.

I just love all the analysis hahaha… The real answer though is very simple, it is because of “eish, auk, êeee….”

The taxi industry in SA has probably killed more people that the Apartheid government ever did. And caused more poverty and misery.

European Bakkies are not allowed to carry people in the Load Bay : Here we load them in then wonder why so many die . Most Drivers are also Unlicenced , so add the two and the result is evident in Death Stats

“…meets all safety regulations within Africa.” In other words the barest minimum compared to the rest of the world. We pay a premium to drive a death trap. We should be grateful.

The slimy response from Nissan to these shocking ACTUAL test results exudes an air of utter indifference to the underlying issue: that Nissan safety engineering is lethally sub-par.

My own personal experience of owning both a Nissan and Toyotas is that the engineering under the skin of a Nissan is significantly inferior to a Toyota, and is driven by marketing focused on superficial bling that sells, rather than solidity of thorough engineering.

Seems to me the Nissan and Ford management are interchangeable as far as customer trustworthiness is concerned!

If you connect a truck head-on @ 120km/h safety features on a vehicle doesn’t mean much.
If only drivers behaved and drove with discipline.
Human error

Have a question for our readers:

What’s your opinion on (the reliability/trustworthiness) of the NISSAN NP-200 1.6 half-ton bakkie?

Will it give one more trouble-free mileage than say a FIAT brand?

(….the ‘Nissan’ is not what it seems to be under the skin….)

Ha ha!

I’ve had two Fiat’s. Lovely cars off the show room floor. And fun to drive.

But NO fun to own! Terrible reliability. Always something going wrong with the electrics.

Like Nissan, on my list of “Never Again”.

Yep, in the States they are referred to as ‘Fix It Again Tony’.

Thanks for the responses thus far, Jonnoxx & Dougalan! 🙂

Yes, I found it strange that when (many) Saffas appeared fairly happy with their much loved Nissan NP200 half-tonners (used in car reviews)…..but…..

….it’s in fact (nothing else than) a DACIA LOGAN PICKUP! (…google the images..) fitted with an older, tried and tested Renault-engine from the Nissan-Renault alliance.
Same with our DACIA Duster & DACIA Sandero marketed in SA under “Renault” part of the group.

What everyone is implying (indirectly) is that the DACIA brand must be superior to the FIAT brand? Is it possible? We seem to find our “Dacia Logan bakkies” quite dependable in SA. Yet it’s a DACIA! Then how is DACIA better than FIAT?? Doesn’t seem to make sense(?)

Im on my 4th opel corsa 1.7 diesel, non turbo. They should never have stopped production of those bakkies.Never had any problems with them.Nissan is the only guys who sell new half ton bakkies.

…you mean “Dacia” has the SA half-ton market to itself?

(Actually tried & tested Renault engine. Robust. So much for the poor perceived view…in SA… of French cars 😉

interesting Michael re “Nissan is not what it seems to be under the skin” in that , I bought a Nissan Quasqai in 2016 , only to discover it has a Renault Motor !! 100% stamped and marked Renault : A bit of a shock : However after 4 years motoring .it has never missed a beat , has plenty of OOmpa as is incredibly economical . Dealer service has been superb and I would buy another one . Also far better value for money than the overrated German stuff .

@edalsg. The 1.6(?) petrol engine could be Renault in the Nissan ‘Kumquat’….just shows you, French car engines are better than we Saffas give it credit for 🙂 The older Renault engines are probably more reliable than many VW engines I experienced from the 80’s/90’s era…the problematic VR6-engine and Jetta V5 must top the junk list. Worse than Fiat.

The latest Qashqai petrol engines are 1,2L turbo…also used in Renault Captur models…so it’s likely a Renault origin.

(No reason to feel shortchanged if your Nissan has a Renault engine….rather the opposite should apply: if you follow RENAULT Formula-1 motorsport engine tech, you should boast about it. On the trucking end of tech, Renault trucks compete proudly in Dakar.)

Otherwise, the 1,5L turbo-diesel engine in the Qashqai (a genuine Nissan motor) is apparently a gem….even Merc use it in some of their B-Class models.

Fix It Again Tomorrow (FIAT).

I suspect that it is a similar situation as to why SA companies generally can’t make it in 1st world countries. South Africans are gullible and take whatever is dished up at any price.

We Saffas have been “conditioned” over the past decades by the local motor manufacturing industry to what they want us as consumers to pay for a new vehicle. We accepted it hook line and sinker, by spending as much of our disposable income on cars since we started out first job.
“Blame” must be laid at the door of SA’s outstanding marketing departments (and their brilliant ad agencies) for making us WANT a car, no matter the price.
…and then the banks came, and said….”you can pay your over-inflated asset off over 6 years”….and that part is only 60% of the value. The rest is the balloon payment, which you can finance again. Whooo-wee! So we end up paying off our status symbols over 8 years. They say our egos must be satisfied….

I agree. South African consumers are morons. For companies trying to put quality on the shelves here can be frustrating.

…let’s not use the word ‘morons’ 😉 for SA motoring public, but rather let’s say….we’ve been slaves to SA companies’ brilliant marketing/advertising campaigns.

One other point is…If this story was in Europe social media would be awash with condemnation towards Nissan their safety guru would be on the “Breakfast show” the very next day explaining the differences & a public outcry/boycott would ensue….
The only real time that has happened since I’ve lived here is E-tolls…
The real power of the consumer has yet to be fully harnessed & meaningfully directed…Read Arab Spring….

Caveat Emptor – you may want to buy that casket before you get that Navar NP300 because you may Never B-there.

The number of rich (read own a BMW, Merc or Audi sedan or SUV) who either owned a Tata Indica or now own a Datsun Go as a 2nd car just shows you how much South Africans don’t car about their safety. Sure you can drive, but when a minibus hits you inside a Datsun go guess what, your life will really Go.

P.S I drive a VW Up! Safest in its class. Even the Aygo doesn’t compete. And unlike the Go, it doesn’t come with a screen but ABS and ESP standard.

Only thing is the Up! has not seen the volumes of sales success VWSA hoped for: the public still chose the VW Polo Vivo (…and now that the latest Polo Vivo is the previous, yet brilliant outgoing Polo…it’s even more compelling above the Up!

However, on tighter Euro roads the Up! has received great reviews in it’s class (yes, don’t discount the great-value Hyundai Grand i10…almost as good).
Then strange, along with the Up! & Grand i10…the Fiat Panda ALSO regularly comes up well in European reviews in small car segment, much loved….but somehow in SA the Panda is off our radar(?) Poor Fiat-SA marketing perhaps….Panda (like the Up!) is a class above the locally popular Datsun Go/Renault Kwid.

I am pretty sure the Navara for sale in SA has the same safety standard as the Navara sold in Europe. This was a stupid test. There are hundreds of cars that are not sold in Europe due to EU rules but that comply with rules in other territories.

Blame the safety standards not the manufacturers!

Note : I have nothing to do with Nissan at all.

How does a Jaguar compare to a Tata – same owners?

Whomever devised this so called test is showing a complete lack of objectivity and little understanding of physics. These are two completely different vehicles by design. Wonder if those idiots understand energy mass equivalence?

End of comments.

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