Ralph Nader joins Global NCAP to urge: ‘no zero star cars’
Legendary road safety campaigner and consumer rights activist Ralph Nader has joined the campaign for ‘No Zero Star Cars’ led by Global NCAP at a press conference in Washington D.C.
Nader, whose ground breaking 1960’s campaign against poor vehicle safety standards and best-selling book ‘Unsafe at any speed’ transformed the US debate on car safety, spoke up after the latest Latin NCAP results showed yet another zero-star car from General Motors in Latin America, the Chevrolet Sail, sold in Mexico. Mr Nader said the Chevrolet Sail should be re-named as the ‘GM fail’.
Speaking at the National Press Club, at a press conference organised by Global NCAP and Latin NCAP on 14th April 2016, Ralph Nader accused car makers of “double standards and…knowing and wilful reduction of life-saving technologies in cars for a population that is more vulnerable because it doesn’t have the protection of law in Mexico that we have in the United States. We’re looking at millions of people who are going to die in motor vehicle crashes all over the world in the next decade…we are now seeing a rapid innovation coming from the auto suppliers in the US and Japan in crash protection and in collision avoidance, so this double standard is only going to get worse.”
The Chevrolet Sail is a popular compact sedan for the Latin American market. The unit that was tested by Latin NCAP is produced in China and assembled in Colombia. The Sail scored zero stars in Adult Occupant Protection and two stars in Child Occupant Protection. The structure of the car was rated as unstable and would not be able to withstand further loadings. The driver registered high risk of life threatening injuries in the head and in the chest. The passenger’s chest showed compression close to the allowed limit. The driver injuries from the frontal impact explain the zero stars - for this reason the side impact test was not performed by Latin NCAP.
Responding to the result, María Fernanda Rodríguez, President of Latin NCAP, said: “I’m shocked that we keep finding zero star Chevrolets in the Latin American market. Whilst other manufactures have shown improvement over the course of the last five years, GM models continue to disappoint. Latin NCAP is committed to bring safer cars to Latin America and we will keep testing, informing consumers, and highlighting GM’s as well as other car manufacturer’s shortfalls until change is effected”.
Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General, said: “Latin NCAP is concerned by the low safety levels offered by Chevrolet models that have been tested by Latin NCAP over the 5 years of the programme. Especially as Chevrolet offer good safety levels at affordable prices in other markets. Latin NCAP was further concerned after GM’s Mary Barra’s recent statements in Davos where she declined to commit to offer airbags as standard equipment for the Latin American consumers. Latin NCAP strongly encourages Chevrolet to follow Honda’s, Toyota’s or VW’s example, who all offer safety levels above the minimum governmental requirements in Latin America, as a market leader GM should be doing the same.”
David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General, has now written to Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, calling on GM to urgently address safety concerns in Latin America where it has the worst average crash test rating of all the major global manufacturers active in the region. He explained:
“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. Two years ago GM announced a ‘Speak Up for Safety’ programme billed as an important step toward embedding a customer and safety-centred culture in every aspect of the business. Global NCAP warmly welcomes these commitments but believes that they now must have practical application in Latin America and in other emerging automotive markets.”
The work of Global NCAP and Latin NCAP is supported by donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies and the FIA Foundation. Attending the press conference in Washington D.C. the FIA Foundation’s Director, Saul Billingsley, commented: “It is unacceptable that today, in 2016, fifty years after the first car safety campaigns led by Ralph Nader, major global car manufacturers like GM are still treating their customers in Latin America with such contempt. A new UN resolution agreed this week sets out seven minimum UN vehicle safety standards and technologies that all countries should adopt and all car makers should meet for all cars by 2020. Car companies have a moral obligation to provide high levels of safety performance for all consumers, not just those in rich countries.”