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Kia Wants Spectra Sedan Retested

December 21, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Kia Motors Corp. said Monday that it wanted a U.S. insurer group to retest the company's Spectra sedan, which received the group's first "poor" rating since 2001 in a front crash test after a crash dummy's head went out the window.

The dummy's head went through the air bag and struck the steering wheel, which would lead to head, chest, neck and leg injuries for a driver, said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The group released results Sunday for the Spectra and four other small cars.

"We were very disappointed" by the rating on the 2004 and 2005 Spectra, said Kim Custer, a spokesman for Kia's U.S. unit in Irvine. Engineers at the Seoul-based parent company will review the test results, he said.

The Insurance Institute and the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conduct crash tests of new cars and light trucks to help consumers pick safer vehicles and to encourage carmakers to improve their designs.

The Insurance Institute probably won't repeat the Spectra test, said Steve Oesch, a spokesman for the Arlington, Va.-based group. "We typically only do that [when] a manufacturer informs us that design changes have been made," he said. "It was a valid test."

The driver's air bags and seat belt both may need to be altered, Oesch said.

U.S. Spectra sales this year through November fell 32% from a year earlier to 41,126. Kia's total U.S. sales rose 14% to 249,947.

Among others in the group's tests, Mazda Motor Corp.'s Mazda3 and Hyundai Motor Co.'s Elantra got the top "good" ranking. Suzuki Motor Corp.'s Forenza and General Motors Corp.'s Saturn Ion were "acceptable," the second-highest grade.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in front crash tests rated 2004 and 2005 model Spectras at four stars, one rank below its highest rating.

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