SAO PAULO: Top-selling cars in Latin America are not safe enough for their passengers and show poor structural integrity, according to a study released Thursday by the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP).
Vehicles tested show that "today's best selling cars in Latin America are providing levels of safety 20 years behind the 'five star' standards now common in Europe and North America. Unfortunately in Latin America 'one star' cars still dominate the market," the survey indicated.
The tests, carried out in two phases since 2010, has tested seven out of the top 10 best-selling cars in the region.
"The frontal impact tests carried out at (speeds) of 64 kilometers (38 miles) per hour reveal that poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Latin American motorists at risk," according to the latest phase of testing released Thursday.
Models tested include 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.
"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," said Max Mosley, chairman of Global NCAP 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," said Carlos Macaya, chairman of the steering committee of the Latin NCAP and of the FIA (International Automobile Foundation).
He said competition among carmakers would soon lead to progress towards the region's first 'five star' cars.
Latin NCAP strongly urged all new car buyers to only choose vehicles fitted with an airbag.
And it called on governments across the region to make it mandatory 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.