The Mitsubishi Express has become the first car to be given a zero star crash safety rating by Australia’s independent car safety assessor.
The van failed at almost every turn when the Australasian New Car Assessment Program ran its crash tests.
Mitsubishi brought the Express back to the Australasian market in 2020 after removing it in 2013.
It has previously been a popular choice for tradies and commercial fleets – although that might be about to change as fleet buyers usually prefer vehicles with five-star ratings. Mitsubishi is marketing the Express 2020 as “a willing worker” and promoting it as a mobile office.
ANCAP chief executive Carla Hoorweg said awarding the organisation’s worst rating should encourage car manufacturers to prioritise safety.
“The Express’ poor result sends a clear signal to manufacturers and their global parent companies that safety must be prioritised in all segments offered to the Australasian market,” she said.
Ms Hoorweg said the 2020 Express had disappointed and did not meet safety expectations.
The van failed to protect occupants during crash testing and had a “fundamental lack of safety systems” that led to the damning result.
During crash testing, ANCAP found the van did not offer drivers or passengers enough protection if there was a crash. It scored 55 per cent for adult occupant protection and just 40 per cent for vulnerable road user protection.
By contrast, the Toyota Hiace – which received a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2019 – scored 94 per cent for adult occupant protection and 84 per cent for vulnerable road user protection.
In three of the four destructive crash tests, ANCAP found there was notable risk of serious injury to the Express driver’s chest.
There were also faults with seat design and head restraints, which were found to increase the risk of whiplash injury for drivers and passengers.
The van has no autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or lane support systems (LSS). Both features are fitted to almost all new vehicles.
A shortage of airbags was another hurdle, with the Express offering no chest-protecting side airbag on the passenger side and no centre airbag for protection in side crashes.
ANCAP concluded that Mitsubishi was capable of doing better, but the Express, as sold in 2020, did not meet consumer expectations.
A Mitsubishi spokesperson said the van’s design was based on European safety protocols from 2015, when it scored a three-star rating.
The spokesperson said driver assistance technologies had changed significantly in that time. However, the company believed the 2020 Express “reflects the lifecycle of commercial vehicles”, which is generally more than eight years.
“The Express meets all Australian Design Rules standards for vans, and the results of the crash testing by ANCAP indicates a good level of adult occupant protection overall,” the spokesperson said.
Victoria’s Traffic Accident Authority responded to the shocking result on Twitter.
“A zero-star car rating does not save lives. Safety ratings matter. Choose the safest car in your budget,” it tweeted.
While the tweet did not mention the Mitsubishi Express by name – it is the only vehicle to be given a zero-star ANCAP rating.