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September 20, 2016

4 Min Read
Emerging market cars continue to lack safety features as standard

The latest crash test result of the New Car Assessment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin NCAP), continue to disappoint with a zero star result for both adult and child occupant protection, for a popular Chevrolet model. The Classic version of the Chevrolet Spark GT manufactured in India scored zero stars for adult and child occupant protection. The Spark GT is a popular model in Mexico and Colombia.

Commenting on the latest crash test results, Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General said: “This is another disappointment from General Motors, especially in a model that has the potential to offer high protection levels, as it did when its basic version equipped with 6 airbags was tested by Euro NCAP in 2009 and scored four stars. It is unacceptable that the European version of the Spark GT, which included airbags, is offered at a similar price to the Latin American version, which has no airbags.

“With regards to child occupancy, Latin NCAP was surprised that the Child Restraint System was installed forward facing by General Motors’ for the 18 month child fitment, the global tendency is to keep child passengers rearward facing as much as possible, in 2015 Toyota rearward faced all the way up to 3 years old. It is a shame that a global car manufacturer like General Motors does not offer as standard well-known safety features. It is hard to believe that this kind of discrimination towards Latin Americans consumers continues, whilst Global NCAP and the road safety community pledges for the democratization of car safety”.

Global automakers often offer basic versions of their vehicles in emerging markets stripped of safety features, with potentially fatal consequences.

María Fernanda Rodríguez, Latin NCAP President said: “Once again we are very disillusioned by General Motors. As a global brand they offer good safety levels for other regions, they should show that all consumers, regardless of geography, are valued the same when it comes to safety. We expect GM to follow other brands, who have made progress in equalizing safety. GM have said that they aim improve the safety levels of their cars in the future. Change needs to come faster as we are very concerned about the number of consumers who are today travelling in unsafe cars and will continue to do so without change in the upcoming years. Long term measure are not good enough, Latin American consumers need safer cars now”.

The Spark GT (Classic) that was tested was the most basic safety version available in the Latin NCAP market. The lack of airbags explained the poor result, as the structure was rated as stable in the frontal crash test. The low score in Child Occupant Protection is explained by the high readings by the dummies during the crash test and the lack of adequate instructions for proper Child Restraint System installation. The Spark GT (Classic) was not tested for side impact because the frontal test had already yielded a zero star car.

Automakers have also been criticized in India for substandard safety features. Results for India’s ‘car of the year,’ the Renault Kwid, surprised and disappointed Global NCAP. After poor results earlier this year, and following Renault’s latest set of improvements, the Kwid was assessed again in the frontal impact test and the model still offers just one star for adult occupant protection.

In its standard version, the Renault Kwid is offered without airbags and has been tested by Global NCAP in the past. The basic version of the car scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and two stars for child occupant protection. The latest version and the most highly equipped safety levels, includes an airbag only for the driver and a seatbelt pretensioner for the driver’s seat. During the test this version still showed high chest deflection, explaining the one star rating in the driver seat.

The Honda Mobilio was tested in the basic version showing a stable structure and zero stars for adult occupant protection. Honda requested Global NCAP to test a unit with double airbags in order to show the benefits of these safety systems, the car achieved three stars for adult occupant protection.

David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP said: “Renault has made limited progress, they should be offering their one star car as the standard version not an option. Honda too have shown that with two airbags they can achieve 3 stars. These safety systems should not be options. “Renault and Honda make safe cars in other markets, they have the know-how to make all their Indian cars much safer. We expect them to start doing so now,” he added.

Rohit Baluja, President of the Institute of Road Traffic Education commented: “The Automobile Industry in India is fast progressing, however safety systems approach is not yet a priority. Customers are not yet aware how safe are the cars they are purchasing in case they meet up with frontal crashes when [traveling] at higher speeds. In these tests both Honda and Renault have demonstrated that they can offer safer cars to the Indian market. Automobile manufacturers should not enhance safety features as an option rather, safety should be an uncompromising standard.”

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