SAO PAULO (AP) — Some of Latin America's top-selling cars pose high risks of life-threatening injuries and are two decades behind the best safety standards in Europe and North America, a safety assessment agency said Thursday.
Tests show cars produced by four automakers in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are unsafe to drive, the Uruguay-based Latin New Car Assessment Program said in a report released in Sao Paulo.
"The frontal impact tests carried out at 40 mph (64kph) reveal that poor structural integrity and the absence of air bags are putting the lives of Latin American motorists at risk," an assessment group statement said.
The group tested Chevrolet's Celta, Corsa Classic and Cruz; Fiat's Novo Uno; Ford's Focus hatchback and Ka; and Nissan's March and Tiida hatchback.
Brazil-based representatives of the automakers whose cars were tested said they had no immediate comment.
The assessment program said the vehicles tested "show that today's best selling cars in Latin America are providing levels of safety twenty years behind the 'five star' standards now common in Europe and North America. Unfortunately in Latin America 'one star' cars still dominate the market."
The number of deaths in car accidents is rising in countries where auto use has grown substantially, said Max Mosley, chairman of the Britain-based Global New Car Assessment Program.
"We are witnessing an unprecedented growth in automobile use in emerging markets like Brazil, China and India," Mosley said in a statement. "Yet it is precisely in these countries where we face a growing death toll on the road."