Automakers, meanwhile, say their products meet or exceed Brazil's safety laws – starting next year, manufacturers will be required to install front airbags and anti-lock brakes. Activists, meanwhile, say those changes aren't enough to make a meaningful impact on the country's death toll. Independent testing found that four of the country's top-selling cars from brands like General Motors, Volkswagen and Fiat received a lowly one-star crash rating.
Compounding the issue is the fact that manufacturers make more money on less safe, inexpensive Brazilian-made cars. The Detroit Free Press reports companies earn a 10-percent profit on vehicles built in Brazil compared to three percent from US-built models and an average of five percent from machines assembled elsewhere. Vehicles imported from other markets are more likely to have safety equipment that meets more stringent standards.