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Holden Barina scandal escalates—Consumers’ Institute calls for withdrawal 

The more exposure this news gets, the stronger a signal we can send to that inferior goods are not acceptable. , in its guise as the automotive equivalent of the Warehouse, has chosen to sell the as the , a vehicle that can only score two stars in NCAP tests. The facelifted version, the , sold as the Barina sedan, fares as poorly, according to European tests. Their predecessor, as those who read this blog regularly know, scored four. Yesterday, the New Zealand Consumers’ Institute called for the withdrawal of the car according to One News—though Holden is standing firm and refusing to budge.
   The perception, as I see it? That Holden doesn’t give two hoots about the of , and missed the opportunity to bring in the D, just revealed in Europe.
   Merely promising that the problems would be examined would have been better. Holden could have said that its ‘ and are working alongside the manufacturer to improve product safety’ (and they are). Instead it chose to argue the veracity of the European and Australian NCAP tests, among the most authoritative and exhaustive in the world.
   From a TVNZ article:

Holden New Zealand says it is disappointed by the results, but doesn’t accept that the 2006 model is less safe than earlier models. Holden says the same tests done in the gave the a five star rating.
   David Russell from the Consumers’ Institute is unhappy with Holden’s response to the result.
   “A two star rating for a new car today is simply unacceptable and then for the company to go further and even promote the car as a safe car is really stretching a long bow,” says Russell.
   Three hundred new Barinas have already been sold in New Zealand and Holden says despite the it will stay in their line up.

   It is true that the NHTSA in the US gave the nearly identical 2005 sedan a five-star rating, but noted a ‘concern’ when it came to side impact. (The results can be viewed here.) So even the test that Holden cites says the car has dangers. Holden, in its arguing, has omitted facts, if the TVNZ article is complete.
   Come on, Holden, aren’t stupid—even if the writing the TVNZ story didn’t check the accuracy of your claim. It’s bloody easy for us to, and plenty of people go online now before buying a car.
   Further, the 2005 US Aveo is a different car from the 2006 one tested in Europe, which is a newer, refreshed .
   That doesn’t bode well for Holden if the American test is accurate and a newer design scores more poorly. It only reinforces what some people are thinking about the : the newer, the crappier. They know this just driving these so-called “new” cars, which were actually deleted from the New Zealand market years before when they were sold as . New Barina is worse than old Barina, not only in safety, but in driving . The is worse than the old Polish-made Holden . And it is a cinch that the will be worse than the (Opel Vectra C) that it might, but should not, replace in New Zealand.
   Even the Consumers’ Institute in New Zealand notes, with a reference to ’s Unsafe at Any Speed (my emphasis again):

Remarkably, the Barina is going backwards: the last model Barina, which was based on the European Opel Corsa, gained four stars in the crash test. Even the Daewoo Kalos, from which the new Barina is derived, did better. The 2003 Kalos scored three stars.

   Even within the same testing company, there is sobering news. As the new Barina hatchback is an older design than the Chevrolet Aveo (or Daewoo Gentra) tested by , this European report excerpt is worrying (my emphasis):

The Aveo scored enough points overall to qualify for three stars but Euro NCAP requires a minimum level of performance in each of the frontal and . The car did not score enough points in frontal impact to be awarded three stars.
   Euro NCAP has assessed the performance of the Chevrolet Aveo, a face-lifted version of the . We were advised that the Kalos would be replaced by the Aveo, but now understand that the Kalos will continue to be available as a three/five door version until 2008. We are informed that until then the Aveo will be available only as a saloon.
   It has been indicated that the includes improvements in safety and Euro NCAP can only conclude that the safety performance of the Kalos [Barina hatch] will not be as good as the Aveo [Barina sedan]. In any case, as our assessment was made on a saloon car, we can not be sure that the three/five door car will have the same performance.

   Holden need not have admitted that the Kalos or Barina is unsafe. But to say the car is safe, when it is far below that of rivals, and far below consumer expectations in New Zealand? That’s insulting your . And it’s killing your in a hurry, destroying it just enough to ruin the VE Commodore’s launch.
   What will the consumer believe? The of Detroit, a big American corporation, or two independent facilities with no hidden agenda, a car that, in a related guise, was once already withdrawn from sale in New Zealand years ago?

Del.icio.us tags: Holden Barina Holden safety car safety crash tests NCAP EuroNCAP Daewoo Daewoo Kalos brand brand equity PR image publicity consumer Chevrolet Aveo
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Supposedly, the next Opel Corsa will be built on the same platform as both the Aveo and Fiat Grand Punto. It doesn't ake a rocket scientist to figure out that it wouldn't take THAT much engineering to bring the Aveo up to at least four stars if the chassis is sound. I am assuming, of course, that the Corsa will need to have a five-star rating have a chance of competing against its immediate rivals in Europe. I expect the resale value of the Kalos/Barina lemon will be minimal, so many private buyers are likely to pass it by anyway. Also, I wonder if a fleet buyer would be prepared to risk liability from one of their employees in the event of a crash? Through knowingly owning or leasing barely safe vehicles?  
The Corsa D is on the Grande Punto platform right now, but the association finishes there.
   The new Aveo, or Daewoo Gentra, that is on sale in Europe is basically the old Kalos with a facelift.
   The replacement for the Grande Punto will probably not be associated with General Motors. However, GM will bring together the platforms for the Aveo and Corsa D replacements, and allow the new car to be developed by Daewoo for 2010 release. Given the premium movement of the supermini class in Europe, I suspect the 2010 Aveo and Corsa E will benefit from largely German engineering, transferred to Daewoo.
   I agree the resale value of the Kalos will be very bad. It will be marginally above the current Kalos on used car lots in terms of depreciation, because of the Holden name. However, I can guarantee that the same-year Opel Corsa Cs sold as Holden Barinas will hold their value better than the Daewoo Kalos-based ones.
   Excellent point about fleets. A buyer would be expected to know about the lack of safety, given the publicity. I am not sure how far ACC will go in protecting that buyer, but certainly the counterpart in Australia could find oneself liable for a claim of negligence at least.  

Other two star performers are: Citroen Saxo, Mitsubishi Lancer, '97 Mercedes-Benz C-class, '97 Audi A4, and '99 Voyager, while one star performances came from the '96 Saab 900, '97 600, '97 BMW 3-series and '96 Xantia. These models are all being bought and sold around the world as used cars.  
Motornoter, what does this have to do with this post, and why should I read a re-run of your own blog here? Besides, you left another comment—why don’t you go and read my reply to you before going around on my blog? Face it: Holden lied. It said the Kalos got five stars in the US while conveniently omitting that it got two in the side impact test. But hey, if you want to condone a cover-up, that’s your choice. I’m not picking on Holden, but I am pointing out the solution it should have taken with what is clearly a PR disaster.
   I think what I wrote here is far less biased and far better informed than anything else I have read on the topic in New Zealand. I gave my facts after doing research, and, as I said before, this is a branding blog—and these comments are directed at that aspect.
   If you believe any of my facts are wrong, then say so.
   If you think that producing a more inferior car with each iteration is acceptable, then I say that is dangerous to the public.
   If you think that we should relax new-car standards just because used cars are less safe, then I say that is irresponsible.
   If you believe that the Barina scandal won’t hurt Holden’s brand, which has been the point to all of my posts on the subject, then I say you live in a dream world.  
Hi Guys i was just like to make a comment, you are blaming Holden and saying take the Barina of the market but yet no one has ask how did the run the test?. Well i can tell you it was ONE car,ONE CAR,ONE CRASH! and they think they can make judgement on this car.

Holden do 5000 crash test before releasing a car 5000 CARS,5000 CRASHS i know which one i would trust when it came to safe or not the people that did 5000 test not some no body that slamed one car into a wall and called it unsafe.
Let’s see your errors here, Neil. I never asked for the Gentra or the Kalos to be taken off the market: the Consumers’ Institute did. So if you want, go contact them, not me.
   Secondly, Daewoo must have run into an incredibly bad run of luck to score so low with these tests in Europe on both the 2002 and 2005 Kalos and Gentra, and in Australia with the 2005 Kalos, whereas everyone else scored higher. What are the odds of these particular test cars doing so badly? Do you really think that these testers, whose methodology you so doubt, who you call nobodies, go around and find the worst examples of the cars? No: they randomly select them and put them to the same test as every other car. The quantity of tests is totally irrelevant—NCAP in Europe and Australia can crash every single car 5,000 times, too, and the result would be the same: the Daewoo Kalos and Gentra will still do worse than everyone else.
   You might want to check how many cars NCAP tests—there is a different car for each impact—and I severely doubt your figure of 5,000 for Holden—I argue Holden tested very few Kaloses and Gentras.
   And are you sure Holden crashed these cars? Where? At Fishermen’s Bend? I doubt it.
   So place your trust where you like, Neil, but your argument makes very little sense to me. Quantity is not relevant here and you have yet to explain just how, statistically, the Daewoos continually score so badly in these tests versus their competitors.
   Incidentally, I see you sent this comment through three times. I deleted two of them. Same thing: repeating your argument twice makes no difference to its original weakness.  
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