Renault accused of ‘ethics breach’ in misuse of safety star ratings

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With FIA Foundation support, Latin NCAP is campaigning for safer vehicles in Latin America
With FIA Foundation support, Latin NCAP is campaigning for safer vehicles in Latin America

Car manufacturer Renault has admitted wrongly advertising its Megane III, which was sold in Uruguay as being a five star model based on ratings secured by the European version of the car in Euro NCAP crash tests. No Renault car tested in Latin America has yet achieved a five star result.

In a letter to the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (Latin NCAP) the car maker confirmed that it should not have attributed the European crash test rating to its model on sale in Uruguay. But in response the Global New Car Assessment Programme has written to Renault’s CEO to ask why the company is also advertising the Renault Clio as a five star car in Chile, warning that “misleading Renault adverts with unauthorized Euro NCAP ratings with no applicability in Latin America are now a region wide problem”.

Testing by Latin NCAP over more than five years has demonstrated that some car models marketed in Latin America fall far short of the safety standards available in Europe, even for models that may seem to the consumer to be apparently identical. While an increasing number of cars sold in Latin America are now achieving four or five Latin NCAP stars, the consumer safety organisation still tests some cars that fail to meet even basic safety standards. European NCAP test results of a model are no guarantee of equivalent safety performance by the same-named model in Latin America – where cars may be built on older platforms, with lesser crashworthiness, or without air bags fitted as standard. This is why it is so important that advertising accurately represents the true status of vehicles on sale in the region.

In his letter to Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, Global NCAP’s Secretary General David Ward says:

“To date no Renault model has ever been rated as five star by Latin NCAP. Therefore Renault’s advertising in Latin America is seriously misleading and is a clear breach of your company’s own Code of Ethics. Section 3 of the Code ‘Protection of Consumers’ states that Renault must “only deliver to customers and consumers verified and honest information about the products and services delivered and their characteristics”. Evidently this is not happening in Latin America where consumers are being given a false impression of the safety ratings of your products. Whilst it is true that Renault over the years has achieved five star results in Euro NCAP crash tests this does not validate any claims by the company that their products in Latin America offer the same levels of vehicle safety. To do so is wrong and unfair both to consumers and to those manufacturers that have genuinely obtained five star ratings in Latin NCAP. Renault’s advertising in Latin America is a form of cheating in independent safety tests that is unacceptable and should not be excused as simply an error by local importers.”

Global NCAP, which is supported with a grant from the FIA Foundation, has urged Renault to carry out an urgent review of all advertising in Latin America, and to withdraw any misleading adverts found as a result. The safety charity has also encouraged Renault to submit to Latin NCAP testing the Latin American specification of all cars that have been advertised as ‘Euro NCAP five star rated’.