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Car unsafety in Brazil causes thousands of death every year

Posted in Posts, and Syllabus Schedule

Associated Press today published an article on the deadly cars made in Brazil that cause thousands of auto accidents every year, even though the cars were produced from the assembly lines of world’s most famous companies like Ford, Fiat and GM.

One typical example is the Ford Ka hatchback. Ford Ka sold in Europe scored a high safety rating of four out of five stars, while its Latin American version scored one star. Ford acknowledged that particular Ka is built on an outdated platform, and said it cannot be compared with the European version of the same name. (I wonder how Mr. Cosgrove would comment on this, given his experience working for Ford in South America).

In this Nov. 25, 2012 photo, rescue workers remove a man from a Ford Ka vehicle after an accident in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Source: AP)

According to experts and engineers inside the industry, four of Brazil’s five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests. The cars have weaker welds, insufficient safety features and inferior materials compared to their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe. Brazilian death rate from passenger car accidents is nearly four times that of the U.S as a result of unsafe cars and Brazil’s dangerous driving conditions.

The country’s safety activists are accusing automakers of earning a greater profit margin from selling cars that offer drivers fewer safeguards. While the cars are a little cheaper to make and the demands of the Brazilian consumers are less; their knowledge of safety issues is lower than in Europe or the U.S. Manufacturers earn a 10 percent profit on Brazilian-made cars, compared with 3 percent in the U.S. and a global average of 5 percent.

Link to the article







  1. asher

    If Ford, GM, and Fiat weren’t making more than three times the profit margin on cars sold in Latin America then these cut corners would be slightly more defensible. However, selling a dangerous vehicle in one country and marketing it as the same safe vehicle being sold in Europe so as to earn a greater profit is not only deceptive, it is malicious. These companies should be held accountable for their actions (do I see a class-action suit in the future?)
    Banking on consumer ignorance and less safe driving conditions overall to hide the truth about these vehicles is bad business.

    May 13, 2013
  2. Car companies may use the same name in different markes but that doesn’t mean they’re the same vehicles. One way to make money is to ship tooling (stamping dies, welding fixtures) to places like Brazil once production ceases in (say) Germany. So these are older models. In addition, in smaller volume markets models aren’t renewed as often. So these may be really old models.

    For some vehicles it is possible to take content out (door braces) that save weight and money but then increase the vulnerability to side impacts. Indeed, at one time the US had the strictest (or maybe only) side impact tests and so only vehicles sold in the US had bracing added – those in the EU and Japan didn’t.

    In general the industry has found that when given the choice between vehicles, consumers place cost above safety – while it’s generally not the case now, at one time in the US you could choose various safety features as options. Uptake rates were typically very, very low.

    So if a Ford in Brazil were to be safer but $500 more … well, car companies don’t mind safety regulations that add cost as long as everyone faces the same mandate.

    May 14, 2013
  3. oliver

    A lack of safety standards in Brazil is partially to blame as well. According to Autoline Daily #1132, Brazil will mandate airbags next year, a full quarter century after the US had the same regulation.

    May 15, 2013
  4. gjeong

    Although the designs of cars are the same, they are different cars. This is due to the different car safety, which varies by country. For example, Hyundai used to sell cars that have really bad air bags in South Korea at a much higher price compared to the ones that they sell in the States. They argue that it is not their fault. Perhaps having a global safety standard for all auto makers to follow would prevent variances in quality like this.

    May 15, 2013
  5. tommd13

    The lack of safety in Brazil is very concerning. If there are less strict safety standards in one country my thoughts are to continue making the same car so that people in other countries begin to associate your cars with safety. This would most likely draw more customers and force other companies to adapt their cars to meet similar standards. Not only will this help improve safety, it will also improve your companies image.

    May 17, 2013

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