Mexicans take into account many factors when choosing a car . And security features aren’t exactly at the top of the list. Color, connectivity and screen are elements that attract the attention of younger buyers, while older buyers appreciate other attributes such as interior space, engine power and reverse camera.
But safety should not be underestimated in a market that, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), ranks seventh worldwide and third in the Latin American region in deaths from road accidents, with 22 deaths. of young people between 15 and 29 years old per day, and 24,000 deaths on average per year. Road accidents are the first cause of death in young people between five and 29 years of age and the fifth among the general population.
In Mexico, NOM-194-SCFI-2015 on Essential Safety Devices in New Vehicles establishes the minimum that all new cars sold in the country must have. Its latest update, published in May 2016 in the Official Gazette of the Federation, included the incorporation of at least two air bags, three-point seat belts and ABS brakes, among other things, for all new cars sold. as of 2017.
This had two effects on the Mexican market: on the one hand, it led manufacturers to equip all their models -from the most basic versions- with minimum security elements; on the other, it led to the release of several models with old platforms, whose updating was not profitable for manufacturers, such as Nissan Tsuru, Dodge Atos and Chevrolet Matiz.
These models had been harshly criticized by the civil association El poder del Consumidor, due to the fact that in the crash tests carried out by Latin NCAP, the deformation of the structure at the moment of impact, and the lack of safety devices, such as ABS brakes and airbags in their basic versions, compromised the lives of their occupants.
The Power of the Consumer calculates that today there are at least 46 models – out of a universe of more than 400 – sold between 2021 and 2022, that do not meet the minimum road safety recommendations of the World Health Organization. However, they are in line with the regulatory scheme of the country and therefore can be marketed.
What elements make a car safe?
Both Latin NCAP and El Poder del Consumidor recognize eight systems as essential to guarantee the safety of the occupants of a vehicle.
Cheap and safe cars in Mexico
Although the higher the price of the car, the level of safety equipment is usually better or higher, there are some models below 300,000 pesos that exceed the minimum recommended by NOM-194 in all its versions.
Is it time for another update to NOM-194?
Although NOM-194 requires manufacturers to incorporate at least two airbags, three-point seat belts, headrests for all occupants and ABS brakes in all their models, different organizations warn about the need for a new update, due to all the advances in security -such as radars and sensors- registered in the last five years.
One of the last projects presented to modify the norm was the one published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on September 22, 2021, presented by the Ministry of Economy.
Francisco González, executive president of the National Auto Parts Industry, highlights that NOM 194 is on the sector’s agenda due to the efforts it entails for automakers. “This standard is fundamental because it encourages (if not to say, forces) vehicle manufacturers to incorporate the auto parts and the necessary conditions to guarantee the safety of those who drive, those who go in the car and also those who go outside” , he added at the last industry conference.