By on December 28, 2015

Chevrolet Aveo Roja Victoria 2015

The Chevrolet Aveo is the most popular car in Mexico, but is also the least safe, according to consumer safety experts. Testing from Latin NCAP found that the Aveo, when sold without airbags, received zero stars for its front-passenger safety rating.

Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal report that American safety advocates including Consumer Reports have written to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, asking why the potentially life-saving devices that are installed as standard equipment for many other countries, are expensive add-ons for Latin American countries.

(“Life-saving” assuming that Takata isn’t the supplier.)

We looked at Chevrolet Mexico’s car configurator, and with the help of high-school Spanish (and Google Translate) we determined that Mexican consumers need to pay the equivalent of $2,700 more for the LTZ model to get airbags. Note the photo of the steering wheel in the lower right corner:

Aveo Mexico LTZ Manual

The base LS model, which lists for the equivalent of $8,875, doesn’t have the option. See the airbag-free tiller here:

Aveo Nexico LS Manual


Considering the blowback GM has faced for safety-related devices, including its ignition switches, one would think that minimizing negative press over safety issues would be a priority.

The letter, drafted by Consumer Reports and Public Citizen, asked GM to make standard airbags across its lineup globally.

“Auto safety cannot only be for citizens living in wealthy countries,” the groups wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Yet GM’s practice of providing some consumers with the best safety technologies, while not even providing air bags to others, strikes us as a morally indefensible decision.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, two airbags could cost as little as $100 for each car.

Our own Bozi Tatarevic says that cost to be a little higher, according to GM:

2014 Chevy Sonic
SRS Module — Cost: $288; Retail: $416
Front Impact Sensor — Cost $58; Retail: $83
Drivers Airbag — Cost $504; Retail: $750
Passenger Airbag — Cost $517; Retail: $750
Total — Cost $1,367; Retail: $1,999

(Clarification: “Cost” is wholesale/dealer price; retail is what you and I would pay. Sorry for the confusion. — Aaron) 

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67 Comments on “Mexican Chevrolet Aveo: Zero Star Safety Rating...”

  • avatar

    “Drivers Airbag: Cost $504 Retail: $750”

    What do you mean by cost? Average cost, marginal cost…?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Apologies for being unclear..the “cost” is the wholesale cost for these parts.

      Certainly, with economies of scale, and eliminating the optional “base” components from the assembly lines, the real out-the-door cost to the OEM for an otherwise-base car equipped with airbags should be significantly less than the $1367.

      • 0 avatar

        What does this fine piece of machinery go for in Mexico, in Mexico-spec, vis-a-vis a likewise USA-spec Aveo? And in calculating margins of such a comparison, one would want to take any disparate tax/registration/baksheesh differences into account as well as currency conversions.

  • avatar

    Let the Mexican government and Mexican activists worry about this.

  • avatar

    This is soooooo GM.

    I betch’ya trucoat comes standard and is charged for on the Chevy Aveo down in Mexico, though, since they put it on at the factory.

  • avatar

    “Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal report that American safety advocates including Consumer Reports have written to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, asking why the potentially life-saving devices that are installed as standard equipment for many other countries, are expensive add-ons for Latin American countries.”

    Yeah, because if airbags weren’t required in the US, they’d be standard on all cars. Not.

    Talk to your local Estados Congressionalesperson if you have a concern, Mexico.

    • 0 avatar

      What would Grango say?

      • 0 avatar

        Dear RydeHype;

        I see you wanted to have of the opinion of a Citizen of My Country such as myself, thus I am here to tell you it. “You can’t handel a truth!” (Jack Nikolsen, ha ha!)

        For people in a Country “down below the belt” like Mexico’s, it can be a necessary Devil to have a car with a lower part of a bar of safety, as it were. When you are having the concern of the most-basic-liveliness sort, you say “Hey, this car has a door – this car has a wheels. I am OK!” And you check inside the interior of the pocketbook, and wow, watch out for little Currency there.

        With the luxury of monetary salary comes the luxury of a good safety, Grango says.

        Ad-nauseum (ole.)

        Grango Relago (senors)

  • avatar

    Some creative GM-bashing by TTAC and Public Citizen. Not content to find constant fault with GM in the USA, now it’s time to develop an anti-GM article on the basis that we should impose our values on Mexico – well not everyone there, just GM of Mexico. Is it possible that the Aveo is best-selling in Mexico because it includes a stripped down model without airbags. These are a safety measure that only provides protection for the driver and passengers – not other drivers or pedestrians. Consequently, if the customers choose not to have air bags they are taking risks only with themselves. I recognize that we have moved away from that here in the USA and in many other places, but the Mexicans and their government have yet to take this choice away from the buyer. Also, if the Aveo’s lack of airbags on its cheap model is so bad, there are competitors who could advertise the advantage of their cars having them and let the market force GM and Chevy to add them. Apparently, the market thus far isn’t doing that. Go find someone else to gripe about.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      “Impose our values on Mexico”. As if not dying in a horrifically painful, yet eminently preventable, way is some sort of relativistic value unique to the United States. Get real.

      • 0 avatar

        There is an endless supply of Mexicans but not of us. We therefore matter more.

        As an aside, over how many roads can Mexicans travel at such a speed that seat belts won’t do?

        • 0 avatar

          Obviously you have never been to Mexico. There are many roads with a 120 kph speed limit. This is about 75 mph. The actual speed of traffic runs between 80 and 90 mph. The Mexican toll roads are the equivalent of the US interstate highways. The tolls cover insurance for your vehicle when driving on a toll road. The tolls also pay for the Green Angels on the toll roads. The Green Angels are green trucks that patrol the tool roads. They carry gas, oil, water and tire repair materials. Driving in Mexico is a lot of fun. My wife and I go to a lot of the smaller towns near where we live to enjoy the local color. Coming back to the US from South of Guadalajara takes about twelve hours to Laredo. That is driving on the regular roads, not the toll roads. The toll roads would knock about two hours off the trip. Instead of commenting on things that you know nothing about, you should come down and see for yourself.

      • 0 avatar

        ““Impose our values on Mexico”. As if not dying in a horrifically painful, yet eminently preventable, way is some sort of relativistic value unique to the United States. Get real.””

        In the American state of Idaho, it is perfectly legal to ride motorcycle with no helmet on, but illegal to split lanes with a motorcycle through a traffic jam. In California, it is exact opposite. Moral value of safety Is ‘relativistic’ in the United States, why would it not be so (indeed, more so) between completely different countries?

      • 0 avatar

        Can’t save everybody. How far do you want to go? Even with airbags, there are still several other problems- Mexico’s significantly worse medical care for example. Should GM be responsible for shoring up Mexico’s EMS and trauma care too?

        If anything we can learn something from Mexico. I ride a motorcycle about 5,000 miles a year (with a helmet and gear- I’m not a COMPLETE idiot). Why is that OK, but an Aveo without an airbag, which is immensely safer, not? I sure would love to drive something like an FF 818 instead of ride my motorcycle, as again, that would be safer, but the NHSTA or whatever it’s called has decided that is no good. There are no “values” here; just byzantine and meaningless regulations that are the result of aggressive lobbying from the automotive companies and clueless safety nannies like yourself. “Get real”

    • 0 avatar

      Why wasnt the Nissan Tsuru mentioned? Its pretty much a 1994 Sentra. No airbags and late 80s era crash structure. I bet the airbagless Aveo is safer.

      Lots of automakers sell non-airbag cars in Mexico and similar places. GM shouldnt be called out in this manner without mentioning that they are not alone in this practice.

    • 0 avatar

      “Some creative GM-bashing by TTAC and Public Citizen. Not content to find constant fault with GM in the USA, now it’s time to develop an anti-GM article on the basis that we should impose our values on Mexico…”


      This is mental masturbation against GM, supplied without societal, or most importantly, economic context.

      If GM’s prices go up $1370 vs. Mexican competitors not required/compelled to install air bags, how many jobs would be lost at those GM plants no longer building a competitive product?

      You can build the safest car there is but if no one can afford it, what good has been accomplished?

      Uh…that’s right. NONE!

      But you feel really good about yourself ’cause…well, just ’cause big, bad evil GM!

      This just in: As Mexico’s standard of living improves, they’ll be able to afford vehicles with air bags.

  • avatar

    “Auto safety cannot only be for citizens living in wealthy countries.”

    It is when your government can’t get it together enough to provide jobs, clean water, education, or pollution controls across the country. All those things come before driving safety.

    If you are concerned about your personal safety, spend more for the trim level with an airbag.

  • avatar

    I would imagine that GM is trying to hit a competitive price point ($8,875) with some other non air-bagged entry level model and that is the reason that they are not included, especially considering that they are not mandated by law.

    It’s ultimately Mexico’s issue to decide if they want to require airbags or not.

  • avatar

    I’ve read in the comments section of this website and from one of the site’s former editors that the world consists of two safety standards (the US/Canada vs everyone else), with everyone outside of US/Canada using the exact same (and glorious) UNECE standards.

    So this can’t possibly be true. The suggestion that there is more than one set of standards outside of the US and Canada just can’t be, right?

  • avatar
    George B

    Looking at the Latin NCAP web page, it appears that more than a lack of air bags contributes to the Aveo’s poor crash test score. It’s up to the people of Mexico to decide how to approach this safely problem, but I’d probably specify a crash test and leave it up to the manufacturer on how to pass the test. Maybe the roughly $1000 cost of air bags would be better spent on building a larger, stronger car capable of keeping a belted driver from impacting the steering wheel so hard.

  • avatar

    Two Words

    Tata Nano

  • avatar

    I work for an automotive supplier of airbag computers and do costing for a living (not passive safety though). I guarantee you that GM doesn’t pay $288 for a Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM, what GM calls their airbag computer). Suppliers generally mark up the Bill of Material by 1.6-2x for the price to GM. BOM on an SDM should be less than $50, especially if it only has to fire the front bags (fewer sensor and firing loops needed). GMs markup to the retail channel is easily 3x or higher.

    The entire frontal airbag system for the car probably costs GM around $150. That would be the ceiling cost.

    • 0 avatar

      I heard a rumor that GM gets amazingly low prices on ignition switches, too.

      Seriously, auto suppliers view GM as the worst vehicle producer to deal with, bar none, and many have in fact refused to continue working with a company that tries to demand Honda spec parts at 1/2 the price Honda pays….

      ….hence GM vehicles full of substandard components rolling around on our highways and byways.

  • avatar

    #1 It was sold here as recently as 3 yrs ago, #2 the even unsafer VW Beetle was sold in Mexico up to a couple of yrs ago, so what’s the big deal?

    • 0 avatar

      #1, no, you haven’t been able to buy a car without airbags in the US since the 90s. #2, it costs a couple hundred bucks to include airbags, but GM is charging over $2000 to get them on an Aveo. This isn’t some luxury bauble, it’s life-saving safety equipment, that kind of markup is unconscionable.

  • avatar

    I don’t like to play this card, but why is GM getting singled out here?

    Are we to beleive that every Dacia, Suzuki, Hyundai, Nissan/Datsun, Volkswagen, and Fiat sold across world markets are on equal footing when it comes to safety (or emissions)?

    I mean VW sold the original body-style Beetle in Mexico until 2003 and Nissan STILL sells a ’91 Sentra there under the name Tsuru. How do those hold up in a crash?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It has seat belts, which save more lives (when used) than any other safety device.

    Even US cars didn’t have airbags pre-1990-ish. It’s a wonder anyone survived a crash back then.

    Next we’ll learn the Mexican Aveo doesn’t have lane departure alerts or automatic braking – oh, the humanity. Here in the US, you can take your life in your hands by driving a Kia Rio. Don’t like it? Then step up to a Volvo or Tesla, if safety is your thing.

    Let the Mexican authorities fight this battle; it’s not an American problem, nor is it a General Motors problem.

    By the way, there are 113 countries with a higher death rate per vehicle than Mexico:
    … China is about 2.5x, and India is 4x.

  • avatar

    While it would be nice if gm sold airbags close to their cost, the alternative for many customers is too keep an older, more unsafe vehicle or perhaps a new, less safe vehicle – like a motorcycle. Too bad the safety zealots don’t understand basic economics.

  • avatar

    For years we drove cars with no airbags, all these stupid things just raise the cost of buying a car and allow careless drivers to believe that they’re safe no matter how bad and irresponsibly they drive.

  • avatar

    Speaking of safety devices, I’ve always worn seat belts since before a high school wreck (’72) from which I escaped with only a mild concussion because of the lap belt.

    Do modern warning chimes for unfastened belts ever stop sounding when someone simply refuses to buckle up?

    • 0 avatar

      I believe they did stop chiming in the two 2012 Audis I used to drive. I always wear a seatbelt, but I often had a front seat passenger that somehow managed to avoid picking up the habit. I once drove a 2008 Suburban from downtown San Diego to Encino with an unbelted front seat passenger. The chime continued to sound at regular intervals the whole way. I’ve also had the chime in a Honda go off until I insisted that someone put their seatbelt on. Perhaps terminating seatbelt chimes are reserved for premium cars.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s always a way to subvert the seatbelt chime. My father got fed up with the one in the farm truck so instead of throwing a tantrum, I suggested we just look up how to disable it. Of course, we ended up unplugging the starter/clutch interlock on the first try.

  • avatar

    I visited Colombia in February 2013. My rental car in Medellin, a Renault Logan, did not have airbags. I guess auto makers are not obliged to install airbags or other safety devices like side impact door beams in markets where they are not mandated.

  • avatar

    I realize airbags are just a tad important to um, survive a wreck, but zero stars implies the platform crashes like an accordion regardless of the presence of an airbag. Why is this still being made? I seem to recall the Spark received an excellent crash rating which I imagine could be marginal even without airbags (or maybe not?).

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not a pretty sight.

      I don’t know the specifics in this case, but platforms are modified for different markets’ crash standards. Presumably, the Mexican-spec cars have less reinforcement that would provide for a more effective crumple zone and that would protect the cabin interior. That stuff costs a bit of money and they don’t bother spending it when they don’t have to.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    I heard Trump put GM up to it.

  • avatar

    Is Carlos Ghosn CC’d on this do-nothing letter since his company still ‘brazenly and unconscionably’ offers a ’90MY Sentra in Mexico as brand-new…with NO trim level having airbags even as options.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously, this do-gooder crap needs to stop. It’s embarrassing when they all latch on to some factoid without ANY context. Boo-hoo GM offers a subcompact sedan in a developing nation that’s in lockstep with all of the local competitors in terms of features and price.

    • 0 avatar

      Believe it or not, groups such as Latin NCAP and Public Citizen issue more than one press release. The Nissan Tsuru was covered before.

      Keep in mind that the reason that you aware of the Nissan is because of the organization that you’re whining about. Who do you think conducted the crash test to which you are referring?

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