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Top Brazil cars 'crash peril'

2013-06-14 11:50

ONE-STAR BUT STILL A TOP-SELLER: The Chevrolet Celta 1.4 earned a one star rating for adult occupancy due to “unacceptably high risk of life threatening injury”, reports Latin NCAP. Image: Latin NCAP

BRADLEY BROOKS

SAO PAULO, Brazil - The Brazilian government said it plans to build its first crash-test facility as part of an effort to improve the abysmal  safety record of cars built and sold in the world's No.4 automotive market.

Brazilian car-crash deaths have risen more than 70% over the last decade.

TOP SELLERS FAILED CRASH TEST

The decision comes a month after The Associated Press published an investigation that showed many vehicles built and sold in Brazil had significantly fewer safeguards than similar models sold in the US and Europe.

AP found that Brazilians are killed at four times the rate of Americans in car wrecks. Independent tests have been conducted in Germany on Brazil's most popular car models and the results were bleak - four of Brazil's five top-selling cars failed crash tests; the fifth has yet to be tested.

Now Brazilian government has implemented tougher safety standards for its auto industry. Brazil requires front air bags and anti-lock brakes on all cars, safety features standard in many countries for years.

A government official said: "Until now there was nothing the government was testing."

The official said the government hoped to have the R495-million crash-test working by 2017 close to Rio de Janeiro - part of the cost to be borne by automakers.

STILL NOT INDEPENDENT

He noted it was a "politically sensitive" topic in a nation where the auto industry plays a big role in the economy. Brazil's government has repeatedly slashed consumer taxes on cars in recent years in an effort to bolster the nation's economic outlook.

Alejandro Furas, technical director for the NCAP crash-test programmes, said: "It's a good thing that there will be an independent crash laboratory but that doesn't mean cars will be better or safer. A crash laboratory is an incredible tool but there have to be regulations - regulations in Brazil are behind."

However, Furas said that if automakers helped fund the Brazilian government's facility then it "would not be independent at all".
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