Timing is everything — new Kia Carnival people-mover must wait six months to get a five star safety rating.
If a week is a long time in politics, six months will prove an eternity for Kia Australia. Thanks to a series of own goals, its new Carnival people-mover will earn just four stars from ANCAP for the first batch of cars sold in Australia.
European and Australian crash testing authorities now require new vehicles to have seat belt reminders fitted for the outboard second row seats if those are fixed. The reminder is not needed for removable seats.
It was due to launch here late last year but production was delayed
The Carnival doesn't comply, at least not until a factory update in August. It was due to launch here late last year but production was delayed. The first of the new-generation vehicles were shipped in January, when the 2015 safety testing protocols came into effect.
Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith describes the predicament as "extremely disappointing (but) it is what it is". "There is a set of rules and you have to abide by those rules," Meredith says. "The frustration comes from the fact that this is really about timing. Had we landed a single car and plated it in December this critical safety requirement would no longer be critical.
"That said, the Carnival is scheduled to be physically crash tested by ANCAP next month and all our internal data gives us confidence that it will score highly." During the original development planning for the Carnival, it was intended that the second row seats could be removed.
That concept was then ditched in favour of tumble-up outside seats with only the centre seat removable. Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth says during that process re-installing the seat belt reminder sensors was overlooked.
Hepworth says that despite the absence of the seat belt reminder the Carnival will be one of the safest people-movers available in Australia. "The car has three-point seat belts for every passenger, front-to-rear airbags, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, forward collision warning — these are all new safety technologies not seen on a Carnival before."