Brazil Top-Selling Cars Score Low on Safety Group’s Tests

Fiat SpA (F), Volkswagen AG (VOW), General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) cars that are among best-sellers in Brazil wouldn’t meet U.S. or European safety standards, according to a group that conducted crash tests on the vehicles.

Fiat’s Palio, Volkswagen’s Gol, GM’s Celta and Ford’s Ka each had a low-end score of one out of five stars in tests for adult passenger safety, according to the Latin New Car Assessment Programme, an independent initiative that began last year and plans to release full results tomorrow in Sao Paulo.

“Everyone is to blame -- the government, the manufacturers and the consumers,” said David Ward, Global NCAP’s secretary- general. Brazilian government rules are lax, manufacturers aren’t committed to safety and consumers lack awareness, he said in an interview today in Sao Paulo.

Brazil is the world’s fifth-biggest car market, and auto sales have been growing more than 20 percent annually for the past few years. Yet the country only in 2009 adopted regulations for safety equipment such as air bags, which won’t be mandatory until 2014. Air bags aren’t standard equipment on the Palio, Gol, Celta or Ka, according to NCAP.

Ricardo Dilser, a Fiat spokesman, said the Turin, Italy- based company is waiting to comment until it can see and analyze the official data. A press officer in Sao Paulo for Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford declined to comment and asked not to be identified because of company policy. GM, based in Detroit, didn’t immediately respond to calls and e-mails. Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said in an e-mailed statement its Novo Gol model equipped with airbag got 3 stars in NCAP’s testing and that “logically, a vehicle without airbag does not match the performance in crash tests of a car equipped with them.”

Latin NCAP in a statement on its website said it’s backed by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, a Paris-based motor-sports organization; the FIA Foundation; Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez, based in Montevideo, Uruguay; the London-based Global NCAP; Inter-American Development Bank, based in Washington; and London-based International Consumer Research & Testing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Sergio Osse in Sao Paulo at josse1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Helder Marinho at Hmarinho@bloomberg.net

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