GM's Barra Defends Not Equipping Some Global Cars With Airbags

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

General Motors CEO and Chairwoman Mary Barra defended Wednesday her company’s decision not to put airbags in some of its cars in international markets.

“In many of those places the technology is available and it’s a customer choice if they want it,” Barra said, according to the International Business Times. “There’s many cases where we are well above standards, but we also have to look at affordability otherwise you cut people out of even having the availability of transportation.”

Barra made the remarks in Davos, Switzerland, which was a response to a letter sent to her last year by consumer advocacy groups in the U.S. — including Consumer Reports — requesting the automaker standardize safety features in its cars worldwide.

In her opening remarks, Barra said that automakers could save money by adopting similar safety standards in worldwide markets:

“Right now the industry faces country by country differences that require different technical solutions, different validation solutions — if we can globalize that, because after all a person is a person, it allows the cost of implementing that technology to come down, allowing it to be made available to more people across the globe. So there is a huge benefit from globalizing safety standards.”

She then defended governments’ rights to enforce different safety measures in its cars, and GM’s ability to meet those standards, whatever they are.

“We need to respect all governments — who is say which government is right (in) the commonization of safety standards, because there’s huge variation even in developed markets that drive costs,” she told the International Business Times.

So, wait. What?


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  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Jan 21, 2016

    She's right about the "affordability". Also a little disingenuous about the "common standards reducing costs". While this is true, common standards will allow EVERYONE to be more efficient and reduce the cost of air bags, etc. But every car buyer in poorer countries will have to pay more, because they will have to get air bags. They simply won't as much more as they might have. Either way, how does commonizing standards, translate into more profits for GM? Won't other automakers get the same break? Where's the advantage?

  • Lon888 Lon888 on Jan 21, 2016

    GM ain't the only ones doing this. In 2014 I rented a brand new Brazilian -built VW Gol in Mexico. No airbags, no ABS, no traction control, not even a seat belt warning light and buzzer. The engine was so basic it even had one of those funny little things called a distributor. It was cheap basic transportation - its only luxury was A/C.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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