Brazil Moving on LatAm’s 1st Govt Crash Test Site
Brazil is launching Latin America’s first government-run auto crash test center in what experts say is an important step forward for car safety in a country where inferior production standards mean motorists die at far higher rates than in the U.S.
On Jan. 7, the government announced in its official gazette that the Brazilian branch of Spanish safety firm Applus IDIADA had won the contract to design the $77 million crash test center in Rio de Janeiro. Officials aim to begin construction in six months.
Safety experts applauded the move as long overdue, though some warn that it is still not enough because Brazil does not require any follow-up inspections to ensure vehicles remain safe over time.
"This is a very important step for the future of auto safety and regulation in Brazil and across Latin America," said David Ward, director general of the London-based FIA Foundation for auto safety. "Brazil will move into the big leagues if this laboratory is built. No nation serious about auto manufacturing and safety has made advances without one."
Brazil’s government announced in June that it would build the center, a month after an Associated Press investigation showed the world’s biggest automakers were selling cars in Brazil with significantly fewer safeguards and weaker bodies than the same or similar models sold in the U.S. and Europe. That means the cars are more fragile and offer passengers less protection in crashes.
In large part because of the safety gaps, Brazilian passenger car occupants are dying at four times the rate as Americans, when comparing deaths to the size of each nation’s automobile fleet, according to data from Brazil’s Health Ministry.