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Latin NCAP Rates Fiat Pulse with Two Stars, Cites Significant Room for Improvement

The latest assessment by the New Car Assessment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin NCAP) has brought to light several safety concerns regarding the Fiat Pulse, a vehicle produced in Brazil. Despite securing a two-star rating, the car demonstrates a need for substantial improvements in various safety aspects.

Key Findings of the Assessment

  • The Fiat Pulse, equipped with four airbags and standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), scored 67.18% in Adult Occupant protection, 55.88% in Child Occupant protection, 45.39% in Pedestrian Protection and Vulnerable Road Users, and 55.81% in Safety Assist.
  • Tests included frontal and side impacts, pole side impact, whiplash, pedestrian protection, and ESC/Moose tests. However, the base model, which lacks features like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Support Systems (LSS), was the one tested.

Areas of Concern

  • The limited side head protection for occupants, inadequate child occupant protection, and absence of rear seat seatbelt reminders (SBR) were notable drawbacks.
  • The car’s structure remained stable in frontal crashes, but the limited coverage of the side head protection system was a significant issue.
  • Child occupant protection was compromised, especially for the 3-year-old dummy, in frontal and side impacts. Compatibility issues between the car and certain Child Restraing Systems (CRS) also contributed to this poor performance.

Recommendations and Manufacturer Response

  • Latin NCAP suggested improvements in pedestrian safety and the standard inclusion of AEB for Vulnerable Road Users.
  • The organization offered Fiat the opportunity to assess the AEB systems for additional reporting, but the manufacturer declined.

Comments from Latin NCAP Officials

Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Latin NCAP, expressed disappointment with Stellantis, Fiat’s parent company, for not adequately addressing safety features like side impact head protection, structural performance in crash tests, and AEB availability. He urged the company to standardize these safety measures across all models, as competitors have done.

Stephan Bordziak, Chairman of the Latin NCAP Board of Directors, called on Fiat and Stellantis to enhance basic safety features across their fleet, focusing particularly on side impact head protection and child passenger safety. Given the family-oriented target of the Fiat Pulse, Bordziak emphasized the need for improved pedestrian protection and the standard inclusion of Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Implications for Consumers and Industry

The assessment reflects a broader issue within the automobile industry in Latin America and the Caribbean, where vehicle safety often falls short of international standards. Latin NCAP’s independent consumer information and mandatory labeling system aim to influence market trends towards safer vehicles, avoiding political friction. The organization encourages consumers, fleet managers, and governments to prioritize safety by choosing vehicles rated by Latin NCAP.

This report underscores the ongoing challenge for car manufacturers like Fiat to balance cost and safety, particularly in markets with varying safety standards and consumer expectations. The Fiat Pulse’s performance in the Latin NCAP assessments serves as a reminder of the critical need for comprehensive safety features in all vehicles, regardless of their market segment.

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