The number of safety features on entry-level vehicles remains low in South Africa, although there have been some positive developments.
This is according to the 2020 Automobile Association (AA) Entry-Level Vehicle Safety (ELVS) report, which assesses available safety features on entry-level vehicles in the country.
The 2020 ELVS report follows the same desktop research methodology as in previous years, with the only difference this year being the value of entry-level vehicles, which has been raised to R200 000.
The 27 vehicles reviewed for the 2020 ELVS report are assessed for safety features stated in the written literature of the vehicles.
The report does not consider the structural integrity of the driver/passenger compartment.
Two important figures provide context for the development of the ELVS report, says the AA. One is South Africa’s high yearly road fatality figures, and the second the growing vehicle population in the country.
In 2019, the country recorded 12 503 road deaths. Also, the current vehicle population in the country – according to official figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation – is 11.27-million, with just more than 7.3-million of these being motor vehicles.
“The large vehicle population and high road fatality figure point to a need for extensive road safety education and the need for better road safety management in the country,” says the AA.
“They also point to a need for consumers to prioritise safety in the vehicles they purchase. The ELVS report should serve as a basis for their research.”
The 27 vehicles surveyed for the 2020 ELVS report were evaluated against the number of active safety features they have (antilock braking systems, or ABS, and electronic stability control, or ESC) and passive safety features (airbags).
Points are awarded to vehicles for the existence of each of the active and passive safety features. Additional points are awarded to vehicles crash tested under the NCAP system, in this case Global NCAP’s #SaferCarsforAfrica programme.
To date, twelve vehicles available in South Africa have been tested under this system.
The 27 vehicles are categorised into three groups based on their safety ratings –Acceptable Safety, Moderate Safety and Poor Safety.
The AA says it is encouraging that 26 of the 27 vehicles in the report are equipped with ABS and that 26 vehicles have front driver and passenger airbags.
The least common safety feature is curtain airbags (only one vehicle) and side airbags (only three vehicles).
“We repeat the call we [have] made for government to urgently review current minimum standards, which are simply not good enough, and to press for the mandatory inclusion of these technologies in all vehicles, including those at the entry-level,” says the AA.
“A significant finding of this year’s report is that only three of the vehicles are equipped with ESC. This is particularly concerning as ESC is a proven technology which can reduce road crashes.”
In the 2020 report, seven vehicles fall in the Poor Safety category, 16 vehicles in the Moderate Safety category, and ten vehicles in the Acceptable category.
These figures are an improvement on 2019’s ratings where four vehicles fell in the Poor Safety category, 16 vehicles in the Moderate Safety category, and seven vehicles in the Acceptable category.
Toyota (two cars), Volkswagen (one car), Kia (one car), Honda (one car) and Peugeot (one car) all fall within the Acceptable range.
The Suzuki Ignis also scored in the Acceptable Safety range, while the Suzuki Super Carry scored in the Poor Safety range.
The Datsun Go+ Mid also scored in the Acceptable Safety range, but only scored a one star rating in the #SaferCarsforAfrica crash tests in 2018, notes the AA.
The Peugeot 108 received the highest safety rating of 110 points.
The Peugeot 108 is the only entry-level vehicle to include a curtain airbag, and it is also the only vehicle to include all safety features considered in this report.
The vehicle would probably have obtained a higher score had it been crash tested, and the AA says it, therefore, recommends that all manufacturers crash test their vehicles.
* The AA reiterates that this report uses desktop research and that the definitive measure of a vehicle’s safety can only be acquired through crash testing. The data presented here should be used as an indication of a vehicle’s safety equipment, and not as the sole indicator of the vehicle’s overall safety rating.