GM’s cars in South America have some serious safety issues image

Global NCAP has called on General Motors to urgently improve its cars sold in South America, after some models received concerning zero-star safety ratings.

If you thought that a zero-start safety rating is very hard to get, you would be wrong. But this unwanted and problematic achievement was reached by General Motors in South America, where the Detroit-based automaker is selling cars without airbags as a standard feature. In the latest crash test results, recently released, it was revealed that the Chevrolet Sail sold in Colombia has been rated with zero stars in the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (Latin NCAP), thus repeating a similar result of the Chevrolet Aveo in Mexico. Global NCAP, the vehicle safety organization that works with governments and new car assessment programmes, said that both cars have a high risk of life threating injury and would fail to pass the United Nation’s minimum crash test standards.

Following these “scores”, David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General, has written to Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, calling on the company to urgently address these safety concerns in Latin America where it has the worst average crash test rating of all the major global manufacturers active in the region. “GM has chosen to exploit the weak application of minimum crash test standards in Latin America to provide a version of the car that the company would be unable to sell either in Europe or North America,” he said.

The latter mentioned that Aveo, for example, was tested in 2006 in Europe and even though equipped with four air bags it scored only two stars and Euro NCAP warned at that time that the car’s body shell had become unstable and the driver’s chest made contact with the steering wheel resulting in a compression which “indicated an unacceptably high risk of life -threatening injury”. In last year’s Latin NCAP test the body shell again became unstable, but the zero-rating came primarily because, unlike in Europe, the Aveo in Mexico has no air bags fitted as standard.

“For at least ten years, therefore, GM has known that without any airbags the Aveo will have a high risk of fatal injury in a frontal crash test at 40 mph. So clearly the safety of your customers in Mexico and in other countries in Latin America has been knowingly com promised,” Ward told to Barra.