BAGS ON THE GO: The global head of Datsun, Vincent Cobee, has told Wheels24 that the South African Datsun GO will soon have a driver's crash bag. Image: Datsun
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The Datsun GO, launched in South Africa in October 2014, will from July be available with an optional driver’s-side crash bag.
This was confirmed to Wheels24 by the global head of Datsun, Vincent Cobee, while on a lightning visit to South Africa recently.
He stated that from the middle of 2015 the bag would be an extra-cost option in the GO Lux model. The price had not been finalised but such a unit, he said, usually added about R3000 to a purchase price.
MILLIONS WOULD FAIL
This announcement follows stiff criticism of the new vehicle after the GO, an entry-level hatchback, was released in South Africa without crash-bag protection or anti-lock brakes. Worse, soon after its local launch, the GO also failed the Global NCAP- and UN endorsed crash test procedures, and in a recent development Global NCAP has called on motor manufacturers to “democratise safety for all cars worldwide by 2020”.
In a study by Global NCAP released mid-March 2015 it was revealed that millions of new cars sold in middle and low-income countries would fail the UN’s basic safety standards for front and side impacts.
Still, in fairness, Datsun's not the only automaker that fared badly in Global NCAP tests. In late 2014 Maruti Suzuki’s Alto also received a zero-stars rating after failing the tests; in January 2015 the Hyundai i10, Tata Nano, Ford Figo en even the Volkswagen Polo failed the tests with a zero grading – in most part because these models, as specified for the Indian market, did not have bags.
As a result VW made available a bag-equipped Polo for the Global NCAP tests and earned a four-star grading.
OTHER PROTECTION SYSTEMS
Back in South Africa, as in India, there are besides the GO a few other entry-level models (among them Tata Indica, Chery QQ3 and Geely LC 1.0) not equipped with crash bags.
While Cobee readily admits more must be done to make the GO safer, he doesn’t want this to be done in precipitate fashion. “It cannot just be a Band-Aid to cover the problem, it has to be done in a structured and organised fashion.”
Some evolutions of the car have already made the driver's bag fully functional and these evolutions, he said, would be adopted on all models. While other protection systems would be considered, he added, he pointed out that "the stopping distance of the lightweight GO is nearly 20% better than competitors” .
He also viewed this as part of road and crash-protection in the broader sense. “Our rationale is to provide mobility to all so we need to cater for younger, first-car, buyers for whom affordability is paramount. Viewed from this perspective there are many more factors besides vehicle safety that lead to high crash and road-death rates. We must address these issues as well.”
PRODUCT RANGE EXTENSION
Des Fenner, general manager of Datsun South Africa, said the company was evaluating ways to contribute to vehicle and road safety holistically. More detail on this, he said, would be made available in coming months.
Cobee also said Datsun had, since early 2014, sold more than 60 000 vehicles in four countries – India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa. The automaker also has plans to extend its product range in South Africa (most probably with the GO+) but Cobeee did not want to elaborate.