Best-selling Indian cars fail crash test

New Delhi :  Some of the popular small cars sold in India, including Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo, have failed crash tests, a global safety group, the New Car Assessment Programme, revealed on Friday.

Small vehicles are the biggest segment of the Indian price-sensitive car market: almost all two-wheeler owners aspire to own a hatchback as they upgrade. Incidentally, the Tata Nano is billed as the world’s cheapest car. As per the tests conducted by the safety group, an independent charity based in the UK, the aforesaid five cars received zero for adult protection ratings in a frontal impact at 64km/hr.

Best-selling Indian cars fail crash test

Incidentally, the combined sales of these five cars accounted for 20 per cent of all the new cars sold in India last year.

India is now a major global market and 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, the safety group said.

When contacted, spokespersons of the companies named said their products met Indian safety norms. According to the findings, in Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10, the vehicle structures proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees on impact, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury, the group said.

Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo, however, had structures that remained stable — and, therefore, with airbags fitted, protection for the driver and front passenger would be much improved.

 Global NCAP said it also assessed the same models against the UN’s basic crash test of 40 per cent offset frontal impact test at 56km/hr, now widely applied by major manufacturing countries and regions, including Australia, China, European Union, Japan and Malaysia.

 “All but one of the cars tested failed to pass even this minimum standard,” the group said.

Incidentally, many cars made in India for export meet these standards already, so it’s not a question of know-how or capability: India’s automobile industry just needs the right incentives.

The results are an indictment of the auto industry in India, which lacks adequate safety standards, said David Ward, head of the London car-safety watchdog Global NCAP, which performed the crash tests. India has some of the deadliest roads in the world. Drivers should be “educated and protected by regulation, but that’s not happening in India,” said  Ward.

 Commenting on the Global NCAP findings, Tata Motors Head – Advanced and Product Engineering, Engineering Research Centre, Tim Leverton, said safety is of paramount importance to Tata Motors.

 “All our vehicles, including the Tata Nano, meets all Indian safety regulations, including the frontal barrier crash test at 48 kmph, as mandated by the government. All our cars on Indian roads, including the Nano, are engineered for safety in view of Indian road and traffic conditions,” he added.

 A Hyundai Motor India spokesperson said: “Hyundai Motor India Ltd affirms that Hyundai vehicles are designed and built to meet all the prescribed safety standards set by Indian Regulatory Authorities.”

 Commenting on the development, a Ford India spokesperson said safety is one of the highest priorities in the design of the company’s vehicles. — PTI

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