For a 17 year period during the 1980s and 90s, the Ford Motor Company utilized an advertising slogan that many still remember today: “Quality is our #1 job.”
And for the most part, Ford quality has been reasonable or better, with the company’s Ford and Lincoln brands both reaching the Top 5 in JD Power’s Initial Quality Study last year.
But there’s always an outlier, and for Ford, it’s the Ka, a subcompact that was just awarded a zero-star safety rating from Latin NCAP, which is an independent safety assessment program not unlike the IIHS in the US.
The Ford Ka isn’t exactly a household name in America, but the vehicle that was once exclusively sold in Brazil can now be found in Europe, Mexico and India, among other global markets.
The recent Latin NCAP test gave the Ka a score of 50 percent when it comes to protecting pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, a 34 percent on its ability to protect adult occupants and a nine percent score -- to be clear: of 100 -- on its ability to protect a child occupant. Part of the problem stems from the fact that there is no side protection for the vehicle, such as side curtain airbags. The report also highlights the lack of safety systems, a few of which are considered optional features but most are actually not even offered at all.
Some of the crash test footage is a little alarming and you can see why the Ka received a particularly poor score on whiplash protection.
What’s crazy is the Ford Ka is the second best selling car in Brazil, second only to the Hyundai HB20 which also received zero stars in Latin NCAP’s latest review. Both vehicles are produced in Brazil and Latin NCAP is urging consumers to reject the models, slamming Ford and Hyundai for offering world class safety in some markets, but not in Latin America.
Ford corporate has suggested it is planning to address the need for more standard features on the Ka, but time will tell. If this were truly a wakeup call, the company might have responded more vigorously the last time its Ka got a zero star safety rating from Latin NCAP, which was in 2017.