SONY DSC

Shortly after the announcement of the ASEAN NCAP Phase III results, we sat down with Proton manufacturing and production COO, Khairudin Datuk Haji Yusoff, to discuss the local car company’s performance, and what he thinks of the way cars are being tested and rated.

As it happens, Khairudin was pleased with the performance of the Preve, which bagged a five-star rating and the second-highest score for adult occupant protection in frontal collisions (company officials were quick to point out that the Preve’s score is the highest in the C segment so far). He does, however, concede that the car’s child occupant protection, for which it scored a less-than-stellar three stars, could be better.

“Improvements are always welcome, and we plan to make them in future tests,” said Khairudin.

Khairudin had a few things to say about the programme’s testing and rating system – he feels that the inclusion of side impact scores into the main rating should be brought forward (the current roadmap targets a 2016 implementation), as there is currently no distinction between a car with good side impact protection and one without.

ASEAN NCAP P-3 Proton Preve-2

“Safety is very important and customers should know which car is safe and which is not,” said Khairudin. “ANCAP (the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme) differs [from ASEAN NCAP] as it takes everything into account, and we got five stars for that, so there is no issue for us.”

Khairudin also talked about the differences between assessment programmes throughout the world, and how that may confuse some customers.

“For ANCAP, you need a minimum of 12.5 points to achieve a five-star safety rating, but for ASEAN NCAP you need at least 14. However, ASEAN NCAP does not have a side impact score, just a pass or fail rating, so there are no [side impact] points incorporated into main rating. This is why the frontal impact requirements are more stringent [for ASEAN NCAP].”

“To improve the car’s rating [in ANCAP] it must have side and curtain airbags. ANCAP also has a pole test awarding an additional two points so that is another thing that we must consider as well.”

SONY DSC

Accidents featured in the papers involving the Preve, one of which crashed into a three-tonne lorry, were also brought up “[Some of the reports] showed the engine separated from the car, and people did not understand it, but it was actually designed that way [to minimise intrusion into the cabin],” said Khairudin.

“The occupants were safe. The body shells [of our cars] are very strong, and that also protected the occupants.”

In response to those who questioned the rating, Khairudin assured us that Proton has only one body specification for the Preve, and that it did not tweak the cars sent for testing to achieve a good rating. He also said that while the current testing and rating system can be improved, the fact that the safety of cars in the ASEAN region are being assessed at all should still be commended, and he hopes it will result in safer cars offered to the local public.

“I hope people make the rational decision [when buying their cars], because safety for the family is most important, and that should never be compromised.”