Conclusion to the Subaru 5-star claim issue

The backstory: Subaru took out a full page ad in a magazine here claiming to be the only carmaker in Australia with a range full of cars rated at 5 stars by ANCAP. Turbin and I took issue.

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Subaru finally got back to me today, and as most of you guessed, they claimed they were OK as their cars had actually been tested by ANCAP whereas Saab’s 5-star ratings are via their tests by EuroNCAP

Dear Mr Wade,

Thank you for your email to Feedback at Subaru Australia regarding the recent advertisement placed in the RACV.

We confirm that we are aware that SAAB has a 5 star rating across its range however the SAAB range was tested by EuroNCAP, whilst the Subaru vehicles were tested by “ANCAP”. In this respect you will note in the copy of the advertisement we specifically make mention that that the rating received by Subaru across its entire range is the “ANCAP five star occupant protection rating”. We confirm that each Australian
specification Subaru model range has been locally tested by ANCAP.

You will also be aware that on the ANCAP web site the following disclaimer is provided for EuroNCAP tested vehicles (such as the SAAB
vehicles):

“The left-hand-drive European model was tested by EuroNCAP. Australasian specifications may vary and therefore models sold in Australasia might provide different levels of protection to those described on this page.”

The representations made by Subaru in the subject advertisement were based on the foregoing facts.

Notwithstanding this, we appreciate your concern regarding the subject advertisement and we assure you that we will take your concerns into
consideration in all future marketing relating to the safety ratings associated with our vehicles.

We sincerely apologise if there was any misunderstanding regarding the representations made.

Regards,

Gianni Carboni
Customer Relations Representative

So there you have it.

I don’t agree. If I check Saab at ANCAP I see 5-stars for every model. Whether attributable by ANCAP’s own tests or derived from EuroNCAP doesn’t change the fact that ANCAP have decided to award the Saabs 5 stars.

ANCAP would probably support Subaru’s side in order to sway other companies to test with them. Saab, well the reply consisted of tumbleweeds rolling by and crickets chirping.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you Swade. No surprises in Subaru’s answer.

    ANCAP buys the cars themselves and prioritises purchases based on popularity of models and manufacturers. They choose the cars from a dealer and make it available for examination by the manufacturer before and after the test. The manufacturer does not supply nor choose the cars tested.

    From the ANCAP site:

    “ANCAP has harmonised test procedures with the European NCAP group (Euro NCAP)”

    The ANCAP disclaimer is to cover them in light of the fact that specifications do vary and it is difficult for them to verify differences between markets.

    This is opportunistic and ‘clever’ marketing by Subaru given that they are pitching themselves on many different levels, unlike Saab. Well played by Subaru, maybe Saab can learn a few things.

    I still am offended by the large print on the ad “It’s easy to explain ‘how’ we’re the only car brand with 5 star safety in every car. ‘Why’ is more difficult.”

    The ‘why’ is very clear, it is not a priority of ANCAP to purchase and crash-test Saabs. If it was then they would unquestionably have 5 star ratings across the board and maybe ANCAP would learn a thing or two able truly safe design.

    BTW I retract my statement that Subaru are the Saab of Japan, their cars are without style, good or bad; simply style-less.

  2. Please Swade write Mr. Carboni back and tell him about the Ancap results. obviously he is still wrong, because Saab STILL has a 5star rating. period. no if ands or buts about it.

    I hate false advertising. It just irritates the crap outta me. Just curious Swade, is it a crime in Australia? We need to MAKE Subaru change that friggin ad.

  3. I think that the Australian agency should be policing this, too. If one OEM will abuse the other members (a la Sube v. Saab) over a minor technicality, why wouldn’t you protect the members that have been defrauded?

    This is akin to a police agency allowing a local driver to get away with causing an accident simply because the other driver was licensed in a different jurisdiction. The police are there to enforce the standards, not just the standards that they were personally involved with certifying.

  4. What a load of b*llocks! Would love to see a Subaru try the moose crash test – and fail miserably! Maybe when they tested them in Aus they ran into a roo instead. Or a Hunstman Spider *eeek*!! Dont you have something like Trading Standards, like the do in my native England, where false advertisers can get dinged?

  5. zippy: exactly my point, ANCAP crash testing a Saab would be a revelation.

    Here we have the ACCC and they are on the warpath having recently and very publicly shamed Audi for false/misleading advertising. They are looking for another kill.

    I have also written a letter to RACV complaining about the ad. They are a partner to ANCAP so probably don’t give a sh%t. Now if Saab (or any other manufacturer) have the balls and resources to go to the ACCC…

  6. This is crapiola, because the cars EURONCAP test are not all left hand drive- how doi I know- becasue I go to the EURONCAP test events!

    Some-repeat some of their test results are carried out on left hand drive cars -but not all.

    So Subaru are playing with words and locations.

    Here is a point to ponder -as EURONCAP results apply across Europe- and the UK is the only right hand drive nation in the scheme (in Europe) – does that mean that if we apply the Subaru logic, ALL the EURONCAP results are void for right hand drive cars in Britain- within EURONCAP?

    Conversely, do the Germans decry any EURONCAP result carried out at the TRL labs in the UK on right hand drive version of cars sold as left hand drive in Germany?

    No they do not.

    And of course ANCAP and oteres link in to the EURONCAP tests.

    So go for it someone- Subaru are talking drivel. (I like Subarus and they are strong safe cars, but their methodology is flawed in their adverts).

  7. Actually the majority of the Euro-NCAP tests are carried out with LHD vehicles. In the latest batch of results just released 3 out of 13 models tested were RHD. Euro NCAP is carried out by a consortium consisting of:
    >FIA Foundation – Based in France
    >Thatcham – (Assoc. of British Motor Insurers)
    >Securite Routiere – France Road Safety Ministery
    >Swedish Road Administration
    >British Department of Transport
    >German Transport Ministery
    >The Goverment of Catalonia
    >ADAC – German Automobile Club
    >International Consumer Research and Testing

    It is also interesting tonote that in the few tests where tests have been carried out on both LHD and RHD vehicles, the results for the RHD have been slightly worse than the LHD vehicles. And yes here in Germany they do point out when the test results are from a RHD vehicle and mention that the results may not correspond 100% with that for a LHD vehicle. As an example in the latest batch of tests the Chrysler Voyeger was tested in RHD, here the excerpt about the results for this vehicle from Auto, motor and sport, the leading German automotive magazine:
    In RHD form the driver of the Voyager is exposed to an extremely high risk of chest injury. Even in the LHD versions severe leg injuries are still to be expected.

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