Impact tests comparing a genuine Holden aluminium bonnet with phoney imports have yielded a life-saving best score for the locally manufactured part.
Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) recently conducted a head form test that simulates a frontal collision with a child pedestrian at 40km/h – a common speed limit in school zones around Australia – using the genuine Holden part and non-genuine substitutes.
The internationally recognised CASR Impact Lab was chosen because it has been conducting pedestrian protection tests for the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) since 2001.
The genuine Holden bonnet performed better in every test and provided the best fit and finish, according to the CASR engineers.
The CASR assessments were part of a program by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) in which genuine and non-genuine parts were subjected to the same tests to demonstrate the importance of using new, factory-approved parts for optimum safety, aesthetics and performance.
The head form test found that the aluminium original equipment bonnet fitted to a Holden Commodore performed better in every complex test than a fake steel replacement bonnet. The genuine bonnet absorbed impact more evenly. Importantly, neither the bonnet nor the head form test device (a 3.5kg steel ball) made contact with hard engine objects beneath, a major cause of pedestrian injury.
“The original equipment provided a better result in the event of an impact that could lead to traumatic brain injury,” said Tony Weber, FCAI chief executive and principal of the Genuine is Best awareness campaign.
“It was a small, but telling result. But I can say that as a parent, the safest result is the best one.”
The results have caused the FCAI to again call for greater controls on the use of non-genuine components in motor vehicle repairs.
“The test was conducted at the same speed as the limit in many school zones and the weight of the head form device was calibrated to simulate the head of a child,” Mr Weber said.
“I fear what would happen at a higher speed.”
The CASR investigation also revealed an alarming additional danger that was unexpected by the test team – the Holden’s bonnet strut was not capable of supporting the substantially heavier fake steel bonnet.
“The fake steel bonnet was twice as heavy as the genuine panel and that meant every time the steel bonnet was lifted it would crash down again after just a few seconds,” Mr Weber said.
“The safety implications for any repair person – for example a roadside service mechanic – are obvious.”
Mr Weber said while fit and finish investigation was not part of the test, visual inspection revealed a poor fit and finish along the fender, around the lights and across the grille.
“No-one would accept such a terrible fit and finish after a repair but parts like this are offered for sale here in Australia. The non-genuine part was so badly made you could almost fit a finger into the panel gap.”