MEXICO CITY – – On the heels of General Motors recent announcement that they would continue to manufacture automobiles without airbags until 2019, Consejo de Latinos Unidos (CDLU), a Hispanic consumer advocacy group and public charity based in the United States, denounced GM for engaging in “blatant economic racism” in Mexico.
“General Motors believes Mexican lives do not matter,” K.B. Forbes, the Executive Director of the CDLU, said in a news release. “Mexicans should not have to wait three more years for General Motors to stop selling a Chariot of Death — an unsafe, zero-star rated automobile that does not even meet United States or European minimum safety standards.”
The currently best-selling car in Mexico is GM’s Chevrolet Aveo, whose model without airbags earned a zero-star safety rating last November by the Latin America New Car Assessment Program (Latin NCAP).
Forbes added, “Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, continues to let General Motors engage in blatant economic racism. She should immediately ground the production of any automobile without airbags now, today, this very moment.”
Forbes said CDLU discovered that General Motors recently dropped the price of their most unsafe car by 5 percent in the Mexican market.
Stephan Brodziak, Vehicle Safety Coordinator at El Poder del Consumidor (EPC), a consumer advocacy group based in Mexico City, said, “What is most troubling is that there is no commitment to change production as soon as possible, since the Aveo year after year has broken sales records. GM continues to take advantage of the lack of information available to Mexican and Latin American consumers. A National Survey of Vehicle Safety conducted by EPC showed that 96 percent of Aveo owners think they have a safe or very safe car.”
“Mary Barra ought to be ashamed of her conduct and we will hold her and GM accountable,” said Forbes, whose group launched the website vidasmexicanasimportan.mx (Mexican Lives Matter) in Mexico.
Brodziak commented, “In Mexico we have an atmosphere of complicity between the automotive industry and the government, which has allowed the industry to abuse and take advantage of some of the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These are low-income families who worked hard to raise enough money to buy an affordable car—a car that will put their lives and family in great jeopardy.”
More than 80 percent of the cars GM produces in Mexico meet the safety standards recommended by the United Nations. However, these cars go to the United States and Europe, while in Mexico highly unsafe vehicles are sold, according to CDLU.
In March, the CDLU released a 16-page investigative report showing that General Motors is the only U.S. auto maker selling passenger vehicles without airbags in Mexico. The report also strongly debunked comments by Barra, who stated that airbags make automobiles unaffordable in emerging markets like Mexico.
The report took a look at 297 versions of 96 light commercial and passenger vehicles sold by the three U.S. automakers in Mexico, and found that nine GM passenger vehicles do not have airbags.
All nine versions are of the top three best-selling U.S. models in Mexico for 2015, representing 11.2 percent of market share. Industry insiders say that front driver and passenger airbags cost $100.00 to install.
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