Indian cars fail crash safety tests
31st Jan 2014 10:41 pm
Most small Indian cars don’t meet UN safety and Global NCAP standards. Many Indian cars score zero on crash & safety tests, European cars with airbags score better.
NCAP, a body that regularly crash tests cars in Europe, has conducted a first ever independent crash tests on some of India’s best-selling cars – the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10, and the Volkswagen Polo. All the cars chosen by Global NCAP were entry-level versions (thats the standard procedure), and hence didn’t come with airbags; placing them at a disadvantage.
Two test were carried out, the UN's basic safety test (40 percent offset at 56kph) and the Global NCAP test (40 percent offset at 64kph).
Of the cars tested, only the Ford Figo passed the UN test despite not having a driver airbag. It was close, as the driver's head narrowly missed the steering wheel, but the Figo passed. VW has decided to withdraw the non-airbag-equipped version from the Indian market and upgrade all its cars with airbags. As a result "it was awarded a pass based on dummy readings from the 64kph crash", according to NCAP. All other carmakers were given the chance to upgrade their cars in this manner.
Table below: UN basic safety test (40 percent offset at 56kph)
As can be seen from the above table, only the Ford Figo passed the test without airbags. The Volkswagen Polo passed only when the car was re-tested with dual front airbags.
The VW Polo with two airbags, however, was the only car to score well at the Global NCAP test(the second test). It scored four stars for adult protection, whereas all the others (including the Polo without airbags) scored zero.
Table below: Global NCAP test (40 percent offset at 64kph)
Only the Volkswagen Polo (with dual front airbags) scored well in this faster crash test.
Max Moseley, chairman of Global NCAP said, “India is now a major global market and the production centre for small cars, so it’s worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America. Poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Indian consumers at risk. They have a right to know how safe their vehicles are and to expect the same basic levels of safety that customers in other part of the world get as standard.”
The tests also showed that the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10 proved to have inadequate structural integrity, resulting in damage of varying degrees, which can often result in life-threatening injuries or worse. Experts said that the extent of structural damage was such that fitting airbags would not make much of a difference in reducing the risk of serious injury in these cars . The Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo’s structure remained intact, hence fitting them with airbags would improve their rating.
However, I V Rao, Managing Executive officer Maruti, said that Maruti's cars were not designed and engineered with these specific tests in mind, putting them at a comparative disadvantage. He also added that based on Maruti's observations, customers only chose airbags in conjunction with other features in India.
David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP said the objective was to raise awareness of safety in India. "Structural integrity and low-cost cars can go hand in hand," he emphasised. One thing's for sure, the debate on safer cars in India has just seen its strongest argument.