Not something we want to hear after the ignition scandal.
GM has been under the spotlight lately because of its questionable and unethical business decisions. Some of the compromises that GM has made involve the cutting costs on recalls that would replace potentially lethal components, but there’s more to it. To import cars into different countries, an automaker must adhere to the local laws. Automakers aren’t really concerned with spending engineering dollars on building compliant cars for countries that have small auto markets.
However, when huge customers like the US or Europe bark an order, carmakers listen. That’s why airbags come standard on all new cars in the US, but this isn’t the case in Latin America. In fact, when the Latin American Chevrolet Sail and Mexican Chevy Aveo were crash tested under the NCAP standards, they received zero star safety ratings due to a lack of airbags and poorly made structures. Lawsuits would be the least of GMs worries if they tried to sell these cars in the US, but given the lack of regulations in small Latin American countries, these cars can be freely distributed. GM CEO Mary Barra has notoriously stated that GM offers airbags in these countries as an option so that buyers on a low budget can afford the cars.
She also said in reference to these poorly rated cars, “There are many cases where we are well above standards but have to look at affordability.” It’s unclear what standards she was talking about, but they obviously fall far below what’s acceptable in the US and EU. Even though GM isn’t the only automaker who conducts this shady and unethical practice, Global NCAP has petitioned GM to ask for improvements to be made to these cars. In the letter, NCAP criticized GM for having known for over ten years that the Aveo’s body shell becomes unstable and that a crash at 40 mph has a high risk of fatal injuries. GM responded by saying it will invest $5 billion to develop safer cars in emerging markets.