Why can’t I have a Multimac in Australia, USA or Canada?

The Multimac has proven to be very popular with larger families, grandparents and even childminders all over the world, but why can’t we sell to the USA, Canada and Australia? Believe us, we’re disappointed too, but it’s all down to the different rules, regulations and methods of testing in these countries, in comparison to Europe. So why can’t we send Multimacs to these countries, and are we working on making it possible in the future?

One of the most popular comments we receive across our social media channels is people from the States asking where the chest clips are on the Multimac, or why we don’t have them. We primarily designed the Multimac for Europe, and one of the regulations across the UK and Europe is that it must be possible for emergency services to quickly and easily remove a child from the car in one swift movement, in the event of an accident. The chest clip would prevent this, as it’s an additional obstruction for police, paramedics or other emergency services workers to contend with when removing the child from a vehicle, often one handed. There are also some arguments against chest clips, stating that they can have negative consequences and actually could do damage to a child in the event of a crash. For example, they can break and then become choking hazards for children, children could be asphyxiated due to a chest clip and also some people have been known to just fasten the chest clip (rather than struggling with the harness) which obviously can have very drastic consequences. Australia is very similar to Europe and the UK with regards to chest clips, and they’re also illegal down under. It’s only really America where they are popular, although it’s not actually a legal requirement to have a chest clip on a child’s car seat in the States. They were first popularised as parents didn’t want to or couldn’t properly tighten the harnesses on their children's seats, so their children would easily slip out of their seats or undo their harnesses. The clips were created to combat this problem, and have since been offered by more and more children’s seat manufacturers. As a result, they’re now being demanded by American parents.

However, the biggest issue with the Multimac and America is the way that the car seat testing rig is set up in the USA. As you may know if you’ve done your research on the Multimac, all of our safety and crash testing takes place at VTI in Sweden, which is often recognised as the ‘home of child safety’. It’s also the place where the rear facing child seat, IsoFix and the Swedish Plus test were invented. Our testing is set up to cover all possible scenarios, so we have to use 11 different child age/load combinations to crash test the Multimac which involves crashing 28 test dummies to ensure that the seat achieves maximum safety no matter the age, size or set up of the children in the Multimac. So why isn’t this suitable for USA testing? One of the biggest issues with the American testing and test rigs is that they do not have a floor. This makes it impossible to test the Multimac, as the legs of the Multimac are a hugely important component of the design and the safety. All Multimacs have two legs at the front, which are height adjustable and sit tightly pressing to the floor of the car. They are crucial in the event of the crash. The support legs will deform and absorb energy; keeping the car seat fixed in place and preventing it from rotating, and are essential in ensuring the Multimac works whether there are 1,2,3 or 4 children sitting in it.

After reading the previous paragraph, you’re probably wondering how American child seats can be safe without the energy absorbing legs. As the American test rig doesn’t have a floor, their children’s car seats have to find their stability and security in different ways; favouring a top tether strap. The car seat laws in the USA require that the seats must pass the safety testing using only the lap belt, so the top tether strap is there to reduce the forward incursion, and hold the top part of the seat back. The top tether is a strap that attaches to a tether point in your car, which is usually located at the back of the back seats if you have a hatchback style car, or where the parcel shelf would be in saloon/sedan style cars. In Australia, they also favour a top tether anchorage system to hold the seat in place, however this specific version is unique to Australia, so will be slightly different to the laws, testing and tethering in the USA. Both solutions are safe and effective when used correctly. 

So, will we be able to get the Multimac approved for use in America, Canada and Australia? How would we do that?

As a matter of fact, we faced a number of the same issues when we were initially gaining approval for use in the UK. The British test house is called BSI (British Standards Institution), AND their test rig also didn’t have a floor originally. When it became obvious that the energy absorbing legs were an essential part of the Multimac, we built a floor which was bolted onto the test rig before we did any of our tests. We finally passed our tests, with every combination of dummy loadings, but were then informed by BSI that we couldn’t be awarded approval, as the test rig had been modified. After asking why we had not been informed of this £50,000 and two years previously, our next steps were to work sequentially through their chain of authority, starting with the Vehicle Certification Agency, to the Department of Transport, then finally to the European Government who advised that we should instead work with VTI in Sweden. VTI, as stated earlier, is often known as the home of child safety, and their testing rig had a floor already built in, for testing the Extended Rear Facing Seats developed in Sweden, so was perfect for testing the Multimac. 

When our testing at VTI proved that the Multimac was not only safe enough to be sold, but was in fact much safer than traditional child seats and enabled up to four children to be carried simultaneously in a normal car, VTI worked with us and helped us navigate the 190 page document that is ECE44-04, the current children’s car seat legislation, which is written for normal, single child seats, and gain full European approval. 

Because Multimac is so unique, and the only one of its kind in the world, we needed someone like VTI, an advanced authority, who could see through the boundaries of the traditional legislation and help us gain authorisation for this revolutionary, ultra-safe child car seat. We now need someone within the legislators of America, Canada and Australia to help us gain approval. A way to get the ball rolling would be for the legislators in those countries to be made aware of the Multimac, the need for it and the existence of this ready-made solution.

So, we need your help! Spread the word, start campaigning, and we’ll get the Multimac approved while it can still make a difference to you, before your children grow up, get married and have children of their own!