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Campaign success: Nissan remove the ‘zero star’ Tsuru car from production

07 Nov 2016

On 26th October 2016, Nissan announced a date for ending the production of the Tsuru. The car, which received a ‘zero star’ rating in NCAP safety tests, is manufactured in Mexico, where it has been the bestselling car and is commonly used as a taxi. Production of the car in Mexico will end in May 2017.

Consumers International (CI) and its Members working with partners Latin NCAP and Global NCAP, launched a campaign for Zero Star Cars, including the Tsuru, to be removed from the market in November 2015.

During that time CI and its Members in USA, India and across Latin America, called on global car manufacturers, such as Nissan and General Motors, to change their practices, and have worked to inform consumers of how dangerous Zero Star Cars are.

How safe was Nissan’s Tsuru?

Zero Star Car testing between 2010 and 2015, showed that Nissan’s Tsuru was one of twenty two cars rated zero or one star, in terms of safety. None of the twenty two cars had airbags.  Even if airbags were added to the Nissan Tsuru it would have been unlikely to meet U.N. vehicle safety regulations and could not have been sold in the U.S., Europe, Australia or Japan.

CI Member, El Poder Consumidor and Latin NCAP investigated the Nissan Tsuru further and released their shocking findings on crash data involving Tsuru in April 2016.

Between 2007 and 2012, an average of 684 people died in Mexico each year in crashes involving the Nissan Tsuru. Over six years this gives a total of 4100 deaths in just one country.

More than just statistics: real life stories

CarSafety-CaseStudyCI and partners spoke with consumers in Mexico and shared evidence with them of the poor safety of Nissan Tsuru.

Gabriel Sánchez Calderón, 29, a taxi driver in Mexico City had eight Nissan Tsuru vehicles in his fleet at that time. “We know they do not have airbags,” he said, “but seeing it crash is alarming. Maybe I didn’t research as much as was necessary.

CI and Members El Poder del Consumidor in Mexico, ODECU in Chile, Union de Usuarios y Consumidores in Argentina, Aspec Peru, alongside Latin NCAP and Global NCAP, kept the pressure on Nissan in Latin America and other Zero Star rated car manufacturers. The planned removal of this vehicle from markets is a real success for the Zero Star Cars campaign.

What happens now?

Amanda Long, Director General of Consumers International, said, “This is a massive step forward for car safety and consumer protection. The campaign against the Nissan Tsuru highlighted the shocking variation in car safety standards between countries. The removal of this vehicle from the market is a step in the right direction and sends a clear signal to other car manufacturers selling Zero Star Cars that the consumer movement must be listened to and companies must make changes.

She added, “It is not difficult for other companies to follow suit, safety is cheap. If companies do not follow Nissan’s lead on this, consumers will be left to question how little manufacturers consider their lives to be worth.

To bring a car in line with basic United Nations safety regulations is low cost. For a typical small car to pass the UN frontal crash test (Regulation 94) it would require the addition of an airbag and strengthened body work. Global NCAP have estimated that it would cost $200 (USD) to add two airbags and strengthened body work.

  • Cost of airbag + strengthened body work = $200 (USD)
  • Cost of one airbag = $50 (USD)
  • Cost of electronic stability control (ESC) = $50 (USD)
  • Cost of ABS with ESC = $75 - $100 (USD)

CI, as part of this campaign have produced animations and other materials, such as a guide for consumers to check safety when buying vehicles. This guide is available in Spanish, English, Tamil, Hindi, and Gujarati; it will be released later this month.

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