24 Nov 2011
Latin NCAP: Latin America’s top selling cars not safe enough

The first ever consumer crash test programme of some of the top selling cars in Latin America has shown high risk of life threatening injuries. The frontal impact tests carried out at 64kph reveal that poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Latin American motorists at risk, according to results from the latest phase of testing published in Sao Paulo on 24 November 2011.

The vehicles tested by the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (Latin NCAP) show that today’s best selling cars in Latin America are providing levels of safety twenty years behind the ‘five star’ standards now common in Europe and North America. Unfortunately in Latin America ‘one star’ cars still dominate the market.

Models newly tested in the second phase are: Chevrolet Celta, Chevrolet Corsa Classic, Chevrolet Cruze LT, Fiat Novo Uno Evo, Ford Focus Hatchback, Ford KA Fly Viral, Nissan March, and Nissan Tiida Hatchback. One star cars are a feature of the 2011 crash test results table.

Latin NCAP is urging governments, manufacturers, and consumers across Latin America to give much higher priority to car safety. In particular, Latin NCAP strongly advises all new car buyers to only choose vehicles equipped with an airbag. Latin NCAP also recommends that governments across the region make it a mandatory requirement for all passenger cars to be able to pass the UN’s most important international safety standards and encourages manufacturers to take the same initiative on a voluntary basis.

Latin NCAP is a joint initiative of the FIA Foundation, the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA), the Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP), the Gonzalo Rodriguez Memorial Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank and International Consumer Research & Testing (ICRT).

Carlos Macaya, Chairman of the Latin NCAP Steering Committee and of the FIA Foundation said: “The results released today are very disappointing. But I’m sure that the days of ‘one star’ cars in the Latin America’s car showrooms are numbered. Competition among the car makers will soon generate progress towards the region’s first ‘five star’ cars. The manufacturers are already actively co-operating with Latin NCAP and requesting to have their latest products independently tested. Some Governments in the region are also taking action to make airbags and ABS compulsory. Better regulation and better consumer information will help to build the market for safety Latin America so urgently needs. Safer cars can contribute significantly to the UN Decade of Action for road safety as we strive to cut by half the number of people dying unnecessarily on our region’s roads.”

Max Mosley, Chairman of Global NCAP said:

“We are witnessing an unprecedented growth in automobile use in emerging markets like Brazil, China and India. Yet it is precisely in these countries where we face a growing death toll on the road. The latest results of the Latin NCAP reveal that South America’s most popular cars are still about twenty years behind the levels of safety enjoyed in Europe and North America. This cannot be acceptable. To meet the goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, we want to see the UN’s global crash test standards applied to all new cars across the world. And we want consumers to be aware of the life and death choices they make when buying a new car. That is what Latin NCAP is now doing for motorists and their families in South America.”

Some models tested by Latin NCAP have shown that higher levels of vehicle safety can be achieved, and that car manufacturers are responding positively to the programme. The tests also highlight the importance of using child seats.

The Latin NCAP tests have been carried out in two phases since 2010. Overall, the Programme has now tested seven out of the top ten best selling cars in the region. The cars selected for testing by Latin NCAP have been the most basic and most popular versions of the model available (without airbags as standard). This partly explains the disappointing set of ‘one star’ results.