Fans of big American pickup trucks will have to wait until 2025 for official Australian safety ratings.
Despite the rash of new arrivals, with the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra joining the Ram and Chevrolet Silverado pickup ranges, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is still deciding the details for local safety testing sometime next year.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are its primary focus for 2024, according to ANCAP CEO Carla Hoorweg, likely helped by upcoming testing by Euro NCAP which can be quickly translated into scores on ANCAP’s five-star system for Australia.
“It’s more about ensuring we’re covering all the EVs that are coming through,” Ms Hoorweg told CarExpert about the test program for ANCAP in 2024.
“There’s a bit of complexity around how that works on a model-by-model basis. Sometimes we don’t have to do a full program.”
She said fresh funding from the Australian Government, with $16.3 million committed through to 2028, would allow more EV testing.
“That additional funding will allow us to ensure that we’re able to do that where we need,” Ms Hoorweg said.
“More money means we can expand what we’re doing. And that’s what’s happening. The Federal Government funding will allow us expand the types of vehicles we can test.”
Even so, it’s EVs and not the heavyweight US pickups which have priority despite the rapid growth in Australian sales of the American trucks since factory-approved right-hand drive conversions began Down Under.
“We want to create something that’s going to cover the whole [pickup] segment as best we can,” Ms Hoorweg said.
“We are working through exactly which vehicles we’re going to look at. It might take some time to get some of these vehicles.
“That’s what we’re working through at the moment. Which of these vehicles are here. Because not all of them, obviously, are here yet.
“At the back end of next year there’ll be four models on sale. And there’s the possibly of another couple that are floating around. There’s a European and a Japanese one floating around.”
But it’s not just the choice of pickups, with the actual testing program still to be decided.
“[It’s] what makes the most sense there. So that’s the sort of detail that we have to decide. What makes the most sense,” she said.
Ms Hoorweg also questioned the cost of a full-scale pickup program.
“Does that fit into the amount of funding that we’ve got? Which tests would be the best ones to do?” she said.
“The other question that’s being sort of actively considered is the pedestrian impact testing. If we’re going to go down this path … what’s going to give the best information so that consumers understand what the implications of those vehicles are.
“Are there improvements that could be made relatively simply in future model upgrades? That’s really the detail of what we’re working through at the moment.”
High-tech active safety systems, which help a driver avoid a crash, will be key to any program, with a question mark over full-scale crash-barrier tests.
“We’re thinking this will be an ADAS [Advanced Driver Assistance Systems] focussed program. We’ll be talking to the industry and community more broadly.
“There are questions about whether we do some physical crash testing on these. So we’re working out at the moment the trade-offs in terms of what the cost of that program would be to get the information.”
But the questions and answers point to testing later in 2024, meaning potential pickup buyers will have to wait until 2025 before they see any official ANCAP scores.
“We’ll do the testing next year and publish the results towards the end of next year – or more likely at the beginning of 2025,” Ms Hoorweg said.