Tony O'Kane | Oct 17, 2011

If you've ever been apprehensive about driving a Chinese car, we don't blame you. Footage from a vast number of Chinese crash tests is readily available online, and they do little to inspire consumer confidence.

Great Wall's V240 and SA220 work utes, which have been on sale in Australia since 2009, both scored a paltry 2-Star crash test rating from ANCAP, putting them at a significant disadvantage against every other ute on the market.

Chinese brand Chery arrived in Australia this year, and its bargain-priced Chery J1 light hatchback only managed to a 3-Star ANCAP rating.

With more Chinese-built cars on their way, safety is clearly something that will need improvement if they are to win the hearts (and wallets) of Australian new car buyers.

The Chinese government knows that it needs to lift safety standards in Chinese automobile production. Through its local crash-testing organsition, C-NCAP, it has promised to toughen crash-testing protocol for domestically-built vehicles from July 1, 2012.

Current C-NCAP requirements lag behind those of European, Australian and American crash-testing standards. The proposed changes are expected to bring Chinese safety standards on par with the rest of the world.

Under the new rules, frontal offset crash tests will be conducted at 64km/h rather than 56km/h, a back-seat test dummy will be added, neck protection will be evaluated and the total number of achievable points will be raised from 51 to 62 points.

Electronic safety aids like ABS and stability control will also be evaluated.

So far only 43 percent of all cars tested by C-NCAP have achieved a five-star rating under the current rules, while just 26 percent have achieved a 4-Star score.

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