Friday 4 November 2016

Crash and Burn | Nissan Tsuru Mexico vs Nissan Versa USA

Common logic dictates that all things being equal, a competition between two participants should produce similar results. Now take this logic to the cars industry. Safety is one of the most important parameters when comparing cars. So it follows naturally that the cheapest car in one market should at least be equal to minimum safety requirements of cheapest car in another market. After all, human life has to be valued similarly everywhere, right?


Nissan, one of the most decorated car brands in the world, makes Versa in USA and Tsuru in Mexico, both being the least expensive sedan in their respective markets. But the safety parameters used in both are vastly different as proved in a recent shocking car-to-car test. This crashworthiness test has been conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and backed by Latin NCAP as well as Global NCAP as part of global #NoZeroStarCars campaign.

In the 50% overlap tap crash test, both vehicles can be seen travelling at 40 mph (64 km/h) before crashing. While Versa is equipped with front and side airbags in a modern structural design, Tsuru has absolutely nothing to protect itself. Result- Versa’s dummy driver is cushioned, its safety cage holds well, passenger compartment remains mostly untouched meaning that the driver can get out of this situation with cuts, bruises and maybe a dislocated shoulder. On the other hand, Tsuru's A-pillar is heavily deformed, practically the whole front passenger compartment is obliterated and the dummy driver’s body contorts in an impossible position showing exactly how a real driver would be dead in a matter of seconds in a similar situation.

Tsuru, a basic boxy car, started its life as Sentra in USA and picked up steam in Mexico through the 1990s and 2000s due to solid looks and low-cost investment plus maintenance, claiming majority stake in Mexico’s taxi fleet, even with a zero-star safety rating. However, over the years, it has been accused of having the highest fatality score among all the vehicles on Mexico’s roads, including more than 4000 deaths between 2007 and 2012. The crash test was conducted specifically to prove just how unsafe the very popular Tsuru is.

The hair-raising car-to-car test has brought into focus burning questions – should a company be allowed to go scot-free when they knowingly skip on essential security features just to produce cheaper cars? More importantly, the companies are taking advantage of different respect for safety parameters in different markets. In such a case, shouldn’t it be the duty of the government to step in and ensure safety of its citizens, by making it mandatory for every company to at least adhere to UN or equivalent standards for safety? After all, if a Versa costing $178 900 Mexican Pesos can adhere to robust security standards, what is stopping Tsuru costing $142 600 Mexican pesos from increasing its crashworthiness quotient?

At least one good thing has come out of this car-to-car test Nissan has decided to cease the production of Tsuru model from March 2017. Bye-bye coffin on wheels!

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