HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) has revealed it was required to run full crash testing for the first time on its re-manufactured Chevrolet Camaro 2SS sportscar, with the company given government certification just last week, although this will not translate to a traditional safety rating.
Speaking to journalists last week at the Camaro 2SS national media in Victoria, HSV engineering director Joel Stoddart explained that re-manufacturing a passenger car to meet Australian Design Rules (ADR) safety requirements was challenging, especially without prior experience.
“It’s the first time we’ve done a full crash program for a car that we’ve submitted for ADRs,” he said. “We’ve done them in the past for verification … if we’ve changed, say the supercharged engine, we do all the predicament analysis, and we might crash one car to verify it’s okay.
“With this program, we had to do all four crashes and submit that to the government, so we’re kind of proud of what we achieved.”
HSV re-manufactured four designated crash vehicles in June this year, with each crashed within about a week of rolling off the production line.
While the oblique pole and full-width tests were conducted at Crashlab in Huntington in Sydney’s west, the other two crashes took place at the APV Tech Centre in Campbellfield in Melbourne’s north.
“We barely had to time to celebrate the pass and commiserate the crashed Camaro,” Mr Stoddart added. “We dragged it out and put another one on.”
When questioned if the re-manufactured Camaro would carry a safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), Mr Stoddart said it would officially be unrated.
“The crash testing we’re doing, the ADRs don’t necessarily relate to ANCAP,” he said. “It’s a different set of crash, and there’s all other criteria. We’re not going to do an ANCAP in this program.”
HSV managing director Tim Jackson indicated that the Camaro’s lack of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) would likely prevent it from receiving the desirable five-star result.
“If you understand the ANCAP rating, what you’ll see is this car doesn’t have AEB,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to change that. It (also) doesn’t have lane-keep assist.
“So, in that criteria, we’re not going to go terribly well. It’s just the reality, (but) in terms of how it actually performed in the crash, it’s actually very, very good.
“To do the ANCAP test, it’s probably another million dollars in that process. We’re happy to be open (about that).
“If your buying criteria is … I need AEB or I need lane-keep assist, it’s probably not the car for you.”
Mr Jackson added that fitting AEB to the Camaro in-house is not an option, because the MY18 model does not offer the advanced driver-assist system from factory.
“We can’t change it,” he said. “That’s the reality. To put AEB on this car, the level of integration on that is just huge.
Nonetheless, after an investment of more than $10 million (excluding equipment purchases) to the make the right-hand-drive Camaro a reality, Mr Jackson is confident that the HSV faithful will not be deterred by its lack of AEB.
“In the background, we’ve had a lot of discussions with potential customers, and it’s not part of their buying criteria,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t take safety seriously, and I think that’s why we’re particularly proud of the ADR testing.
“From our perspective, what we didn’t want it to have is the integrity of the vehicle compromised, and we believe we’ve retained the integrity of the vehicle.
“But the core vehicle doesn’t have AEB, doesn’t have lane-keep assist. Our conversations with our customer base … (reveal) they want an exciting car to drive.”
Mr Jackson stressed that the multi-million-dollar outlay would be worth it, as it helps to future-proof HSV’s in-house capabilities.
“If we’re planning on creating the vehicle, we do need to do the tests somewhere,” he said. “It’s a choice whether we send it away or do it in-house.
“We know we’re going to be doing more of that, so it’s actually, in a funny way, a cost-saving to bring it in-house, even though it’s an upfront investment.”
In order to convert the Camaro 2SS from left-hand drive to RHD, HSV requires 357 new parts from suppliers, the vast majority of which are Australia-based.
Each example requires about 130 man hours to re-manufacture, with the factory in Clayton South, Victoria, currently rolling out three units per day, but HSV is hoping to increase it to six when it hits peak production.
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