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Top selling car gets ZERO safety rating

16 November 2015

Consumers International and its Members are calling for urgent action to improve safety standards to prevent unsafe cars being allowed on roads in Latin America.

US-based car manufacturer General Motors is being urged to immediately stop selling cars that would fail the UN car safety regulations, as they contribute to the 1.25 million global road crash deaths each year.

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On 16 November, the New Car Assessment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin NCAP) – an initiative involving a number of CI Members in the region - released their most recent crash test results. General Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Aveo, the best-selling car in Mexico and sold throughout Latin America, scored zero stars for protecting adults, and a disappointing two stars for protecting child passengers. Latin NCAP described the model as demonstrating a “high risk of life threatening injuries”.

Latin NCAP tested the basic version of the Aveo which does not have airbags fitted. Airbags are a key safety feature that protect car occupants in the event of front side impact, and therefore help vehicles to score well in crash tests. A version of the Aveo which does have airbags and is sold in Europe and the US (where safety regulations are among the strictest) was tested by the European NCAP in 2006 and performed better – though still only scoring two out of a possible five stars.

Despite recent commitments from GM to become an industry leader on safety, Chevrolet has performed consistently poorly in Latin NCAP tests over a number of years, and ranks 8th out of 11 leading car manufacturers in the region in the organisation’s safety league table. Only three Chinese brands scored worse on average over 5 years of Latin NCAP tests.

Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General said "It is simply unacceptable in 2015 for a global manufacturer like GM to be producing zero star cars."

Consumers International (CI) is supporting the call for the universal adoption of minimum UN Vehicle safety regulations by governments and voluntary compliance by car manufacturers as soon as possible. Cars scoring zero in NCAP tests fail these internationally recognised minimum safety standards.

Vehicle ownership is rising steadily in low and middle income countries, and many of these countries are also now leading car producers. While there has been significant progress in improving car safety in high income countries, many countries in Latin America and the rest of the world have not yet fully adopted these international standards into their national law.

Research commissioned by Global NCAP found that more than 380,000 deaths and serious injuries could be prevented by 2030 in Brazil alone if it adopted key UN regulations within a reasonable timeframe.

Amanda Long, Director General of CI, said:

“Car safety is a key consumer issue. The fact that General Motors, one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers, is still continuing to sell a car in Latin America whose safety features have now been deemed unacceptable on two occasions – and would not be acceptable in their own country - is truly shocking. Safety regulations need to be addressed, it truly is a matter of life and death.”

Latin NCAP was established in 2010 to provide consumers with independent and transparent information about the level of safety of cars available in the region. Latin NCAP safety tests are based on internationally accepted methodologies, with vehicles awarded a safety rating of between zero and five stars according to the level of protection provided to adult and child occupants. CI Members Consumidores Argentinos (Argentina), ODECU (Chile, PROTESTE (Brazil), ASPEC (Peru), Centro para la Defensa del Consumidor (El Salvador) and FUNDECOM (Ecuador) are members of Latin NCAP.

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