Nissan takes zero star car out of production in victory for NCAP campaign

Main Image
the crash test dummy in the US Nissan Versa.
the crash test dummy in the US Nissan Versa.
The dead crash test dummy in the Mexican Nissan Tsuru.
The dead crash test dummy in the Mexican Nissan Tsuru.
The crash test, and the Nissan announcement, both attracted significant media attention
The crash test, and the Nissan announcement, both attracted significant media attention
Watch the US v Mexico car to car crash test.

Nissan Motor Company has announced the withdrawal from sale of the Tsuru, a high-selling car in Mexico, following a campaign by Latin NCAP and Global NCAP co-funded by the FIA Foundation. The car, which scored zero stars in a Latin NCAP crash test, will cease production in May 2017.

The announcement came on the eve of a car-to-car crash test organised by Global NCAP and Latin NCAP at the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The test was conducted between the 2016 Nissan Versa, sold in the United States, and the 2015 Nissan Tsuru, sold in Mexico. Both cars are manufactured in Mexico and have been previously tested by the IIHS and Latin NCAP respectively, the Versa obtained a performance of Good (equivalent to 5 Stars) and the Tsuru was rated Zero Stars.

After the test which involved a 50% overlap and a combined closing speed of 80mph (129 km/h), the results graphically highlighted the urgent need for the Nissan Tsuru to be taken out of production. A driver in the Tsuru would have had high probability of suffering life-threatening injuries, it is likely that the crash would have been fatal, there were no airbags, and the main structures all failed, fatally compromising the survival space.

Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General said: “I believe that Nissan made this announcement as a reaction to our campaign to stop the production of Zero Star Cars in Mexico and across Latin America. Our car to car crash test demonstrates why these Zero Star cars should be removed from the market immediately. In April this year we published a report showing that the Nissan Tsuru had been involved in more than 4,000 deaths on Mexico’s roads between 2007 and 2012. Even though we welcome Nissan’s announcement, why should at least 15,000 more units of this potentially life threatening model be sold between now and May? Why has it taken Nissan three years since we first crash tested and gave the Tsuru a Zero Star rating to take this unsafe car out of production?”

“Our first ever Car to Car test clearly shows the importance of minimum crash test regulations”, said David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General. “Mexico doesn’t yet apply them and the US has had them for decades. The lack of standards can result in the sale of unsafe cars like the Nissan Tsuru. Across Latin America all countries should apply UN or equivalent safety standards to all new passenger cars, so that there is no future for Zero Star Cars.”

The FIA Foundation supports Global NCAP’s work promoting independent car test programmes and campaigns in South America, India and SE Asia. In Latin America, a new report commissioned from the UK Transport Research Laboratory by Global NCAP and the Inter-American Development Bank has shown that over 40,000 deaths, 400,000 serious injuries, and $143 billion in costs, could be prevented by 2030 if countries in the region adopted basic UN vehicle regulations.

Natalie Draisin, the FIA Foundation’s US Manager, who attended the car to car crash test, said: “Business as usual is not an option if we are to achieve the road safety target in the Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, for too many car manufacturers, business as usual is exactly what they intend to keep on doing, unless campaigns like ‘No Zero Star Cars’ can shame them into changing. UN vehicle regulations are available, the UN General Assembly has endorsed their adoption for all cars by 2020, there is no longer any excuse for cars like the Tsuru.”

Global NCAP promotes the expectation that all consumers across the world deserve the same level of minimum safety standards. Mark Rosekind, Administrator of NHTSA, said: “We need to learn from each other. We’re in this together because traffic fatalities don’t care about boundaries.” Recognising the need for collaboration among countries, NHTSA launched a comparison of 2013 VMT fatality rates in US states and high-income countries to coincide with the Global NCAP meeting.

The Global NCAP Annual Meeting and Fleet Safety Open Day was held at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in Virginia on 27 October 2016, co-sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Global NCAP Chairman Max Mosley to Ralph Nader, for his pioneering consumer campaigns beginning with ‘Unsafe at any Speed’ in the 1960s. Nader, who joined Global NCAP’s ‘No Zero Star Cars’ campaign earlier in the year, commented on the latest Nissan crash tests: “This is the double standard that Global NCAP and Latin NCAP are trying to drive home, that human life should not be the subject of monetised calculations.”

Watch the video about Global NCAP’s campaign activities in 2016 here.