A crash test designed to highlight the difference between North and South American car markets has highlighted a wide gap in standards.
NISSAN will drop a decades-old Pulsar-based small car from showrooms in Mexico next year after a disturbing high-speed crash test that has highlighted the difference between the company’s entry-level sedans sold in South and North America.
While the Japanese carmaker sells the Versa light car (sold in Australia as the Almera until 2014) in North America with six airbags for a “good” crash-test rating , the South American equivalent, known as the Tsuru, is derived from a cheaper, 26-year-old design fitted with less safety equipment. As a result, the Tsuru wears the lowest-possible crash safety ranking possible – a “zero". Adding insult to injury, both vehicles are made in the same factory in Mexico.
Global NCAP organised for both cars to be crashed into each other this week to highlight the massive differences in safety.
The footage is chilling.
“After the test which involved a 50 percent 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,” Global NCAP said.
“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.”
Nissan responded to the crash test by announcing shortly before the cars were slammed into each other than it would pull the zero-star version of the car off the Mexican market by May next year.
According to Global NCAP, Nissan’s decision to halt production of the Tsuru was “long overdue”.
“Three years ago our partner Latin NCAP crash tested the car and revealed its zero star rating,” it said.
“It has taken Nissan too long to recognise that selling sub-standard cars is unacceptable. At last they have responded to the demands of Latin NCAP and Mexican consumers to withdraw the Tsuru from the market.”
Mexico is yet to introduce minimum crash test regulations. Global NCAP claims the Tsuru alone has accounted for 4000 road deaths between 2007-12.
In Australia, Toyota is the latest carmaker to come under fire after it increased the safety of the Toyota 70 Series Landcruiser cab chassis ute, but failed to roll out the same potentially lifesaving features to other 70 Series models, including the family-focussed dual-cab version.
The bare-boned ute gains a larger, stiffer ladder-frame chassis, extra airbags, revised body panels, new front seats and “a raft of other changes that improve its safety performance”.
While the 70 Series cab chassis ute has earned a five-star crash safety rating – an important factor in keeping the ute on mine sites and in fleets – the other models including the dual-cab, wagon and troop carrier, remain unrated.