Brazil Gov’t May Backtrack on Auto Safety Laws
The Brazilian government may delay "by one or two years" the implementation of a law requiring automakers to install frontal air bags and anti-lock braking systems in all new cars, the finance minister said Wednesday.
Safety advocates decried the idea of any delay, saying that in terms of safety, Brazilian cars are already decades behind those produced for consumers in the U.S. and Europe despite Brazil now being the globe’s No. 4 auto market.
Earlier this year, an Associated Press investigation into the safety record of cars sold in Brazil found they had significantly fewer safeguards than the same or similar models sold in the U.S. and Europe. Using Health Ministry data, the AP found that Brazilians die at four times the rate as Americans in passenger car wrecks and that fatalities rose more than 70 percent in Brazil in the past decade while falling 40 percent in the U.S.
Independent tests have been conducted in Germany on Brazil’s most popular car models, and the results are bleak. Brazil’s top-selling cars, most lacking air bags and advanced brake systems, failed their crash tests.
Brazil’s government said in 2009 that it would gradually require automakers to install air bags and anti-locking braking systems in vehicles. By Jan. 1, 2014, all vehicles were to include two frontal air bags and the brake system.
But Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Wednesday that after recent meetings with Anfavea, a trade group representing Brazil’s auto industry, and also with autoworker unions, the government had grown concerned about a rise in prices for the most basic models of cars, which could jump by more than $600. Another concern is jobs that may be lost if some vehicle models cease production because they cannot be outfitted with the safety equipment, which would be the case with Volkswagens iconic "hippie" van, which is produced only in Brazil.