Fears over the demise of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) have been allayed for now, with a $2.2 million boost in federal funding announced in Melbourne today.
Recent rumours suggested funding for the program could be reduced or cut completely, as local crash testing would arguably be less relevant once the three remaining Australian carmakers end production.
The similar Euro NCAP scheme tests many of the models on sale in Australia, and ratings from crash tests conducted in Europe could potentially replace ANCAP crash ratings post 2017.
Following today’s announcement, the program will received $2.2 million in federal funding over the next two years, taking it through until 2016; the year Ford will cease local manufacturing.
ANCAP’s future beyond 2017 - the year Holden and Toyota are planning to exit - may still be in doubt, although the federal government is just one of the program's 23 financial backers.
The program also gets funding and support from the New Zealand government, along with Australia's state and territory governments.
"With Australian Government support and funding, ANCAP has increased its ratings coverage to 95 percent of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia," Assistant Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, said.
"The Australian Government is committed to working with organisations like ANCAP to raise awareness of road safety and to reduce death and injury on our roads through safer vehicles, safer roads and safer drivers."
ANCAP Chairman Lauchlan McIntosh welcomed the funding boost, saying he felt reassured that the new federal government continued to recognise the importance of the program.
“ANCAP is the foundation stone for the Safer Vehicles pillar in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and in Australia's National Road Safety Strategy,” Mr McIntosh said
“The continuation of federal funding underscores the important role vehicle safety plays in reducing road trauma. This is of particular relevance during this Decade of Action as we strive to meet a 30 percent, or greater, reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2020.”
Mr McIntosh said the funding would allow ANCAP to enter “the next phase” of vehicle safety assessment focusing on advancements in road safety technology, such as autonomous braking.
The ANCAP chairman added that an expanded diversity in Australia’s imported cars over recent years was further proof of the program’s importance.