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GM To Phase Out Cars Without Air Bags

GM's Sail model was described is unstable, has no air bags and lacks three-point seat belts in all positions.

2016 Chevrolet Sail in Columbia.
2016 Chevrolet Sail in Columbia.

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. said Thursday it will phase out cars without air bags and other safety features after its Chevrolet Sail subcompact flunked a crash test in Latin America.

The Latin New Car Assessment Program — an independent testing organization — said Thursday the Sail received zero stars in its latest tests. The organization said the Sail is unstable and has no air bags. It also lacks three-point seat belts in all positions. The Sail is made in China and exported to emerging markets. It has a starting price of less than $10,000.

It's one of several Chevrolet cars that have done poorly on the tests. The Aveo, Spark and Agile cars without air bags also have gotten zero stars on Latin NCAP's tests. Many other brands — including Chery, Geely, Hyundai, Nissan, Fiat and Renault — also sell cars that have gotten zero stars in the group's crash tests.

Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP's secretary general, said GM should follow the example of Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen, all of which sell cars that exceed minimal safety standards in Latin America. Earlier this year, GM CEO Mary Barra defended selling cars without air bags in markets that don't require them, saying they're more affordable for low-income buyers.

But on Thursday, GM reiterated a pledge it made last summer to spend $5 billion developing safer cars for emerging markets. The cars will have air bags and three-point seat belts in all positions, the company said. The new cars will start appearing in the 2019 model year, the company said.

"GM shares the goal of improving road safety worldwide, including the adoption of basic auto safety standards in global markets and the phase-out of zero-star cars," the company said in a statement.

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