Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Chery's Turn to Fail a Crash Test

The news is not good for Chery - or Chrysler and Fiat.

By Chris Haak


We've covered the disasters that crash tests have proven to be for Chinese cars in the past (search Google for 'Landwind SUV' or click on Brilliance BS6 for information on those). Now, news out of Russia is that the Chery Amulet - the top-selling Chinese model in Russia - has failed a crash test conducted for auto magazine AvtoRevu in spectacular fashion. In its 17 year history, the well-regarded AvtoRevu magazine has conducted 39 crash tests; most of those were locally-built models, but it has also conducted tests on foreign models from the U.S., Italy, France, and South Korea. Many of the foreign models have earned top ratings, and in fact a Russian-built model built by Avtovaz earned the magazine's lowest score ever, 0 out of 16, in 2001, so there likely was no conspiracy against Chinese imports or Chery specifically. In fact, Chery officials were present during the Amulet crash test.

The test that the car failed was designed to replicate the often-cited EuroNCAP offset barrier test; the car is traveling 64 kilometers per hour (about 40 miles per hour) into a solid barrier, but only part of the front bumper hits the barrier (so the impact is concentrated on a smaller area). The result was nothing short of catastrophic and is surely making Chrysler and Fiat executives a bit nervous this morning (since both companies have entered into agreements to have Chery build cars for them in the coming years). The car continued deforming past the rear edge of the front fender and continued until the crash test dummy driver's face was as far forward as the barrier! Don't take my word for it - see it for yourself below.

The test dummy became so entwined in the wreckage that it had to be removed from the car in pieces; he basically became part of the dashboard and steering wheel. The results were so bad that AvtoRevu called on Chery to immediately withdraw the car from the market. Chery declined to do so.

For its part, Chrysler is well aware of the safety and quality concerns that Chinese cars bring to the table. Chrysler plans to send scores of engineers to China to help Chery improve the engineering of their vehicles, and the ones exported to North America in particular, and also plans to keep a close eye on the supply chain to ensure that no shortcuts are taken in terms of material quality (AvtoRevu magazine speculated that perhaps Chery used softer metal than it should have in the Amulet; Chery denies this).

Once again, as long as I continue to value the safety of myself and my loved ones, I do not plan to do more than sit in a stationary Chinese-built car until they have proven that they can build cars to the same safety standards that the rest of the world adheres to. The Chinese auto manufacturers really need to get their act together with regard to quality and safety - there's a reason their cars are so cheap, and it's not low labor costs. It's a lack of engineering talent, sub-par materials, and indifferent quality control.

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jasmine k said...

Chinese goods seem to failing in a lot of ways lately. Loweat price is what Americans want, and this is one of the side effects.

Realist said...

... anything for the sake of money. It makes me sick what some people will do for money. If China wants to play on the world market, they MUST be regulated. I have also thought for a long time that all major auto markets in the world need to have mandatory standard satefy systems as well as meet a certain minimum in crash tests.

The US and Canada are doing some good by making a lot of safety items mandatory, but they need to go a step further and make it mandatory that cars need to achieve a certain minimum in crash tests before they can be sold on North American shores so that deathtraps like this car never make it to our shores.

I encourage everyone to do their part and lobby their local politicians for this issue.

This just gives me another reason to not buy a Chrysler.

China seems to absolutely not give a damn about anything except money. Many of China-made goods and food products are banned from places like the EU, and China goods/food are causing problems in places like the States and Canada.

Bullithead said...

The Chinese auto manufacturers really need to get their act together with regard to quality and safety - there's a reason their cars are so cheap, and it's not low labor costs. It's a lack of engineering talent, sub-par materials, and indifferent quality control.

Amen, brother. Chris Haak, you tell it like it is! And Realist, you too! The Chinese are going to have to be forced to care about safety, because it's very obvious they don't care whether some of their customers die needlessly or not. As long as their sales keep going up.

Let's hope both Chrysler and Fiat keeps Chery on a very short leash.

Mirko said...

Chery Amulet...? Looks like a clone of the 1st generation Seat Toledo, and that explains why it won't be too good in modern crash tests: It's built on the Mk2 Jetta platform.

David S. said...

No no no. You guys don't get it. This car is designed to protect the occupants of the opposing vehicle. The Chery Amulet itself, the whole car, is the crumple zone.

The name Amulet is obviously a misnomer. I hereby give this car the hokey English-to-Chinese-to-English name: Chery Honorable Sacrifice.

Honda-san said...

Gosh, where can I buy one?

slider85 said...

HA, buy cheaP and count your savings from your Hospital Bed, or your WidoW can have more moeny for the funeral

Anonymous said...

It is obscene that these cars would be allowed to be sold anywhere, even in developing countries. These are death-mobiles, plain and simple, and should be pulled off the market until they can pass a crash test in some satisfactory manner.

bigbopbing said...

And this is Chrysler's answer to cracking the small car market? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? These cars seems to be screwed together with rivet screws and aluminium flashing. Sell these things in China, not the U.S.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese auto corporations want to use us as their crash test dummies. Nothing like real-world data

the truthist said...

But, for a limited time only, if you buy one, you get free dog food for a year (you won't need that much after switching your dog over to our food), as well as a $500 gift certificate for Chinese-made Mattel toys!

9000 ices said...

Came here from the NYTimes link, and glad I did. The video of this crash is outrageous. How can these cars be sold anywhere is my question, much less in the EU which has pretty strict rules about product safety.

jody r said...

This is like a car that someone put together in their garage. KEEP THESE CARS OUT OF THE US