Volkswagen‘s local unit has denied that vehicles it sells in Brazil are less safe than models exported to Europe.

According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, the company on Thursday released a press statement in response to heavy criticism from a Brazilian consumer protection organisation for failing to equip some of the vehicles sold in the domestic market with essential safety features, such as twin airbags.

According to the report, the NGO Pro Teste said that crash tests on the cars had shown the worst results in recent times, with an increased risk of death during a collision in a model destined for the Brazilian market.

In its statement, Volkswagen argued that the organisation had compared the performance of two different models, which would invalidate the tests. One had twin airbags and the other did not.

The company defended itself by saying that models both with and without twin airbags are sold in the Brazilian market, although neither Brazil nor the European Union had specifically requested the safety devices.

Volkswagen also said that all European consumers require models equipped with double airbags, while only 2.8% of Brazilian consumers do the same, due to purchasing power and consumer habits.