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NCAP slams cars in low income countries

Big impact: A report by the world's leading car safety assessor, Global NCAP, says the omission of basic safety equipment is putting drivers at risk in middle to low income regions.

Leading safety assessor calls for improved car safety in poorer countries

11 Mar 2015

GLOBAL NCAP chairman Max Mosley is calling for the world's car manufacturers to raise their game after a recent report revealed the performance of many new cars in middle income countries is “entirely unacceptable”.

According to the leading vehicle safety assessor, a large proportion of cars sold in Africa, Asia and Latin America struggle to meet the standards that European vehicles were managing 20 years ago, but the market is booming which puts more lives at risk.

Increasing numbers of motorists are attracted to the cheap but relatively unsafe vehicles, which NCAP has discovered in many cases perform poorly in basic frontal and side impact tests.

In a damning statement at the United Nations' Forum for Harmonisation of vehicle regulations, the Global NCAP boss accused manufacturers of treating their customers in middle income countries as “second class citizens” and called for the implementation of a democtarised safety standard to protect them.

"Safety improvements stimulated by legislation and consumer awareness campaigns in high income economies that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives are not yet systematically available for drivers and their families in rapidly growing lower income markets," he said.

"For example, crash test standards introduced 20 years ago for cars sold in Europe are yet to be met by many new cars being sold today in leading middle income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is entirely unacceptable.

"Manufacturers cannot continue to treat millions of their customers as second class citizens when it comes to life-saving standards of occupant protection."The vehicle safety advocate is proposing car-makers adopt a cooperative safety standard to ensure their vehicles meet higher crash safety levels by 2020 as outlined by the Democratising Road Safety report and its 10 recommendations.

In addition to actions by manufacturers, NCAP wants all UN member states to adopt its two-stage minimum safety regulation plan, which would require vehicles to comply to crash worthiness and avoidance standards by law.

The report also recommends fleet buyers only select vehicles that earn five-star ratings, while governments can play their part by providing discounts and incentives for safer models.

Equipment seen as commonplace in Australian vehicles is still largely absent in some of the tested cars, and the report advises a more widespread inclusion of airbags, electronic stability control and crumple zones as standard.

In India for example, Datsun and Maruti Suzuki sell versions of their Go and Swift hatchbacks without any airbags, resulting in a zero-star safety rating, while the body-shells of Suzuki Alto 800, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10 collapsed to varying degrees “resulting in high risks of life threatening injuries.”

Australia's branch of the safety body ANCAP strongly supports the 10 recommendations laid out in the report, and the organisation's CEO Nicholas Clarke said vehicle safety should not be a luxury for wealthier nations.

"ANCAP strongly supports the recommendations of this report encouraging the improvement of vehicle safety standards for all cars in all markets," he said.

"Closer to home we have seen the success of the recently formed ASEAN NCAP and its affect on improving vehicle safety standards where regulation doesn't yet exist.

“This force must extend to regions not yet covered by consumer programs such as ANCAP and ASEAN NCAP."

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