Malcolm Flynn | Jun 1, 2012

Resource giant BHP Billiton is the latest company to stipulate a minimum 5-Star NCAP safety rating across its vehicle fleet.

Applying to its global operations, the new policy covers both passenger and light commercial vehicles (LCVs).

The move surpasses the Australian Federal Government’s fleet-purchase rules, which last year mandated a 5-Star rating for its passenger fleet vehicles, but is only increasing its LCV policy to 4-Stars from July.

Manufacturers of Australia’s top four selling LCVs - Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, and Mitsubishi Triton (each with only 4-Star ANCAP ratings) will be concerned with BHP Billiton’s policy change, as each depend heavily on sales to such fleet operators.

Speaking with GoAuto this week, Toyota Australia's Mike Breen confirmed that the carmaker will respond with a 5-Star upgrade for its HiLux in 2013.

To achieve a 5-Star ANCAP rating, changes will likely include stability control and curtain airbags as standard across the range instead of just high-end models as present.

2012 ford ranger 01 xl xlt 01

The lesser-selling Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and Volkswagen Amarok are likely to benefit in the short term at least, as each already carries a 5-Star safety rating.

A safety rating is yet to be applied to Holden’s new Colorado range of LCVs, but five stars are expected.

Also set to benefit are the locally produced Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon ute models, which were among the first LCVs to earn 5-Star status.

Currently, just 18 percent of LCV models on the Australian market qualify for a 5-Star safety rating, and such policy changes will encourage this percentage to increase.

“This announcement will serve as added impetus for manufacturers to include higher levels of safety not only in passenger vehicles but in particular the light commercial market segment which is lagging behind in terms of safety implementation.” ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke said in a recent release.

He also stressed the significance to employers of such policies:

“With one third of compensable work related fatalities involving a vehicle, vehicle safety is paramount in protecting employees, and investing in safer vehicles is an investment in the safety of these employees.”