Seat Does a U-Turn, Friday, December 22nd 2006.

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Spanish car-maker Seat has bowed to consumer pressure and reversed its decision to remove the seatbelt reminder system from the León. Euro NCAP was told that the safety feature would be axed at the end of August 2006, as part of a cost-saving exercise and asked Seat to reconsider this decision. After receiving no response, Euro NCAP issued a press release on the 25th August 2006 informing consumers of Seat's proposed action. Public reaction to that information appears to have convinced Seat's management to continue to fit the seat belt reminder system as standard.

Seat issued a press release stating that no Leóns had been produced without the seatbelt reminder system. Following a request from Euro NCAP for clarification, Seat has now informed Euro NCAP that they have no plans to remove the seat belt reminder from the León.

Euro NCAP Chairman, Claes Tingvall, said, "This shows the influence that public opinion can have on car manufacturers when it comes to maintaining the highest levels of safety. We are pleased that Seat have responded as they have."

Today, Euro NCAP issues its latest set of crash test results. Ratings for four new cars are released: the Toyota Auris, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Magentis and Skoda Roomster. Two of the cars, the Auris and the Roomster, are awarded a five star rating for adult occupant protection. The Magentis and the Sante Fe are both awarded four stars.

Despite the Skoda's excellent five star adult occupant rating, Euro NCAP's tests identified a weakness in the Roomster. Main battery power cables are vulnerable to damage as they are routed down the front of the battery. In the frontal crash test, these cables were damaged resulting in a loss of electrical power. As a consequence, the seat belt pretensioners failed to fire. Skoda proposed the fitment of reinforced sleeves over the cables to protect the cables. They also proposed a modification that maintained sufficient electrical supply to fire the pretensioners, even if the cables were damaged. As a consequence, Euro NCAP allowed a retest. In the retest, the cable protection was found to be inadequate with some cables again being damaged. However, the other modifications did ensure that the seat belt pretensioners operated correctly. Euro NCAP asked if Skoda planned to modify cars already sold but was disappointed to learn that there are no plans to do this. Skoda has appllied the modifications to vehicles from VIN number TMBVCB5J875025783.

As well as a maximum five star rating for adult occupant safety, the Toyota Auris also achieves a commendable three stars for pedestrian protection. However, the Hyundai Santa Fe is given a zero-star rating for its pedestrian protection after failing to score a single point. The Kia Magentis also does extremely badly, scoring only three points for a one-star rating.

Claes Tingvall, "These are appalling results from these two Korean manufacturers. It has taken the car industry a long time to address the issue of pedestrian safety but several manufacturers are now making improvements and the Toyota Auris joins a growing list of three star cars. For the Santa Fe not to score a single point shows that Hyundai have made no effort whatever to protect pedestrians and reflects a worrying disregard for the safety of this important group of road-users. Manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia are now a long way behind the front-runners and it is high time that they realise that such poor results are unacceptable."

The ratings for these cars in more detail can be seen at www.euroncap.com.

Euro NCAP's commitment to consumers ensures that test results are released as soon as possible. Keep checking our website for details of forthcoming results.

For further information please contact the Euro NCAP office: office@euroncap.com.

Summary of Results

Small Family

Large Family

Small MPV

Large Off-Roader

Editors notes:

1. With the introduction some time ago of the Child Occupant Protection rating it is important to refer to the Adult Occupant Protection rating correctly. In the past, this has been referred to as the "Overall" or "Occupant" rating. Neither of these is now satisfactory.

2. The front impact test is conducted at 64km/h (40mph) into an offset deformable barrier, the side impact test 50km/h (30mph), the pole test at 29km/h (18mph) and the pedestrian tests at 40km/h (25mph).

3. Comparison between Size Categories: It is essential that no attempt is made to compare the ratings between cars in different segments or mass groups. The frontal crash test aims to measure the performance of the car impacting another car of similar mass. There is no capability to determine what would happen if cars of widely different masses impact each other. It is not primarily the mass difference that has the effect, but the effect that mass has on the structural stiffness combined with the relative height of the structures from the ground.

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