Kia and Peugeot have some explaining to do to their Latin American customers. That’s because a recent study which performed crash tests on several popular hatchback models found severe and catastrophic failures by both Kia and Peugeot hatches. The issue seems to be automakers forgoing proper airbags and door reinforcements in the Latin American markets.
The tests were performed by Global New Car Assessment Program, which is a worldwide auto safety watchdog. The group recognized the popularity of hatchbacks in Latin America and decided to determine how automakers were treating their customers. Kia and Peugeot were the worst offenders. The crash tests featured the Kia Picanto hatch, which is not available in the US, and the Peugeot 208 hatch. Both cars are seen frequently on the road in Central and South America.
Kia Picanto: Zero Stars
The Kia Picanto hatchback had the dubious distinction of scoring a zero rating for protection of adult occupants, while mustering up only one star in protection of child occupants.
“Latin NCAP is disappointed to see a global car manufacturer like Kia offering a successful model like the Picanto with such poor safety performance,” said Alejandro Furas, secretary general of Latin NCAP. “Although in some markets the model is offered with better safety equipment, the manufacturer decided not to sponsor the double airbags version of the model and therefore offer the same safety levels to all consumers in the region, no matter where they live.”
The Picanto is built by Kia in Seoul. The version available to Latin American markets does not include any airbags – undoubtedly leading to the zero-star crash rating. The only area where it was marginally better than the Peugeot was in the side tests, due mostly to basic structural enforcement in the doors.
Peugeot 208: No Side Reinforcements
Peugeot’s 208 hatch is popular wherever it is offered (currently Latin America, Europe and the Middle East) but it also scored poorly. The 208 hatch earned just two stars on the adult occupant protective measures. It got to three stars for child occupant protection, but these were clearly not the ratings the company wanted to see. The Peugeot 208 did not do very well with side impact tests either, putting occupants clearly at risk during accidents.
Global NCAP expressed heightened disappointment with Peugeot’s bad results, particularly since the company consciously decided to skimp on safety technology for its Latin customers. European-market versions of the car possess better safety technologies.
“There are some local Peugeot importers offering the 208 manufactured in France with better safety levels,” said María Fernanda Rodríguez, Latin NCAP president. “This demonstrates that importers have the chance to help to improve the safety levels of the cars offered in the region without waiting for the brand to make decisions or the local government to adopt better safety regulations.”
Which safety tech was taken out of the car for the Latin markets? The structural reinforcements in the doors are not present in the 208 manufactured in Brazil for the Latin American market. This will result in a higher level of intrusion by foreign objects in the event of a crash. The Brazil-made 208 also does not have any side airbags, which explains the poor rating for side impact protection.
“Latin NCAP is disappointed with Peugeot’s strategy of selling a car made locally without basic side protection mandatory since 1995 in Europe,” Rodriguez said. “The Peugeot 208 is considered a high-level and successful car in Europe and one of the latest platforms of the manufacturer. Shame on Peugeot.”