Cape Town - Nissan SA is recalling its popular Navara after the vehicle's airbag deployment was identified as a potential problem in recent Euro NCAP testing.
The vehicle safety agency announced that it has now added "pick ups" to its comprehensive testing schedule. But the first vehicles assessed - Nissan Navara, the Isuzu D-MAX/Rodeo (KB) and the Mitsubishi L200 (Triton) - have shown some disappointing results.
"Unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury"
Both Navara and KB received poor scores in the Euro NCAP adult occupant assessment.
According to Euro NCAP, the Nissan achieved an "extremely poor rating of a one star strikethrough" with Isuzu not doing much better with a two star strikethrough.
The KB was found to pose "an unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury to the chest region."
According to the vehicle safety agency, Nissan has announced a recall intended to improve the airbag software of its Navaras since the start of its production.
Locally, Nissan SA has echoed this, stating that the owners of 2 500 affected vehicles will be advised to take their vehicles to their nearest dealer.
These vehicles' airbag control units need to be reprogrammed after a potential delay in the deployment of airbags during a frontal impact was identified.
The manufacturer stated that in its testing of vehicles falling within the affected period, the potential delay of about 20 milliseconds was not observed. The normal airbag deployment time for this vehicle is 45 milliseconds.
However, Nissan SA has chosen to extend the airbag settings for the current model year to vehicles produced between January 2005 and July 2007.
The manufacturer assures this is not a safety recall as Navara achieves all the local regulatory requirements.
The airbag control unit reprogramming should take approximately 30 minutes and will be completed at no cost.
Shift in bakkie customer base
Traditionally bought and used for commercial purposes, bakkies have seen a recent surge in demand, especially as more options and better trim quality has shifted the focus to include recreational and family transport, too.
This has prompted the Euro NCAP to create a new pick-up category to reveal the safety drawbacks of these vehicles.
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP said, "Euro NCAP must act as a guardian of car safety for consumers.
"Testing these vehicles becomes imperative when we realise they are no longer simply being used for the carriage of goods.
"Manufacturers must realise we will test all cars that could have an impact on the safety of consumers".
The best of the pick-ups tested by Euro NCAP was the Mitsubishi Triton, which received a respectable four-star result in adult occupant protection.
All the vehicles tested received disappointing child occupant and pedestrian protection scores.
The Mitsubishi and Nissan scored three stars each in the child occupant rating, while the Isuzu scored two stars.
Similarly, the Isuzu and Mitsubishi scored one star apiece for pedestrian safety, and the Nissan two stars.