Car News

[UPDATE] Ford Everest 4X4 now recognised as MC equivalent across Australia, new builds from January to be plated MC

New Ford Everest 4X4 variants will soon be classified as MC (off-road passenger vehicles)… (update) Existing Everests now recognised as MC equivalent nationwide.

WE HAVE COVERED THE MA/MC issue in some depth since we broke the story back in mid October, but in brief; as a cost-saving measure Ford, Jeep and HAVAL all categorised some of their 4X4s as passenger cars (MA) under the federal design rules, instead of offroad vehicles (MC). This meant that the range of legal modifications for such vehicles was reduced, specifcally tyres and suspension lifts.  

Then in early December we reported that HAVAL had decided to change its H9 4X4 from MA to MC, and provide existing owners a letter stating their vehicles would be recognised as MC. And last week we reported that Ford had reached the same agreement with Queensland, and were working on the other states.   We can now report that Victoria and Tasmania are now confirmed as recognising the Everest as MC, with the rest expected to follow. 

Ford spokesman Damion Smy told us that “For existing Everest 4×4 owners, we have confirmation of Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria at this stage. We’re working with South Australia on achieving a similar outcome if possible.”  Ford are in the process of writing to owners who have expressed concern, providing a formal letter stating their MA cars will be treated as MC.

UPDATE 21/12/2016: Ford Australia has advised Practical Motoring today that it now has confirmation that South Australia will recognise existing Ford Everests as MC equivalent. This news means that the Ford Everest is now recognised as MC equivalent across the country.

Ford have also written to their dealer explaining the change, admitting that there is in fact a wider range of aftermarket modifications available for MC vehicles, however they maintain that the Everest needs no modifications at all to go offroad – which is true to a point, but as owners have pointed out modifications to vehicles such as the Everest do improve its offroad capabilities quite significantly. 

That’s also an improvement from their first communication which was to blame the authorities for choosing MA, then attempting to confuse the issue by saying the Everest was MC compatible even if it wasn’t certified. Nobody ever questioned the capability of the Everest, so that was seen for the red herring it was. To be clear, the Everest is a fine 4WD and this question would never have come up if it wasn’t. 

However, Ford were reasonably responsive from the start, even asking one concerned owner to take his vehicle to a dealer to be assessed for a buy-back. 

And now, Ford will categorise new Everests as MC. Smy told us that “we don’t have a definitive build date yet, but given the process of re-homologating the Everest 4×4 runs smoothly, we should see them in March or April at the earliest.” So to be clear; existing owners get a letter stating their MA cars will be formally recognised as MC, and the Everest will be changed to MC in 2017. UPDATE: the first MC vehicles will be in the January 2017 production run.

everest-ma

This hasn’t been a quick or easy process, so why did Ford bother? Smy said: “We listened to customers who wanted to modify their Everest 4×4, and have used that feedback to make the decision to re-classify the Everest 4×4, at considerable cost, as MC. We have also worked on existing Everest 4×4 owners to ensure that they are able to enjoy the full benefits of an MC classification so that they can modify their Everest 4×4 according to these requirements. We think it’s crucial to listen to customer feedback and develop products, services and beyond that people want to buy. We welcome feedback from our consumers on all of our products, and where we can, we’ll make changes to suit.”  

This is great news for Everest and H9 owners, and reflects very well on Ford and HAVAL. Jeep still don’t think there’s a problem though.  Incidentially, HAVAL didn’t reckon there was much of a cost at all, or maybe they just spent less time deciding and more time doing.

It’s been fascinating to cover this story since inception. It’s an impotant story, not just for Ford, Jeep and HAVAL owners, but because it’s about making sure vehicle manufacturers do whatever they reasonably can to ensure that touring offroaders have the vehicles they need to explore Australia by 4WD.  This only happened due to the sustained effort of the Everest owners who lobbied their dealers, started a change.org petition, started organising a class action and worked with the road authorities to ask, query and demand action. It should also be noted that the efforts were polite, intelligent and determined – not ranty, threatening and illogical.

Owner Brendan Botha summed up the mood well:

“I bought this car because of the marketing and sales material from Ford regarding its off road capabilities and close comparison to the Prado (which is MC). I am not disputing the Everest’s off-road ability, I am concerned about the implications that the misaligned classification has on me as the owner.”

We asked Ford what they’d learned from this, and Smy said “we use consumer feedback to develop our products, and this is not something that we take lightly. We’re proud of the fact that we have been able to respond to customers who want to modify their Everest 4×4, and we’ve learnt the value of such feedback through our most passionate, enthusiastic Everest 4×4 owners”. 

Ford have also stated that the Everest’s warranty will be honoured for offroad work.  

So today it’s MA/MC for the Everest, but tomorrow who knows what the issue will be – but the stronger the voice of the offroading community, the more likely it is that it will be heard.  This has been a great example of owners working together to achieve an outcome, and two car companies listening and doing the right thing.

Further reading

 

 

 

 


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper