03 Nov 2014
UN crash test standards would make cars safer in India says Global NCAP
Global NCAP, the umbrella body of consumer car safety testing bodies, welcomes the Indian Government’s initiative to launch a New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) but believes that this positive step should also be accompanied by action to apply the United Nation’s minimum crash tests standards.
India is now the fifth largest producer in the world of passenger cars but new independent crash tests show why the country should use internationally accepted safety standards. Crash tests of Nissan’s Datsun Go and Maruti-Suzuki’s Swift demonstrate a high risk of life-threatening injuries with both cars receiving zero-star safety rating for their adult occupant protection. These risks would be significantly reduced if the cars had to comply with the UN test regulation for frontal and side impact.
Global NCAP chairman Max Mosley said: “India has the potential to be a world leader in the automobile industry but Indian consumers are not aware of how unsafe they would be in case of a crash. That is why we are pleased that India is launching an NCAP consumer testing programme. This would be a step forward for safety but regulations based on the UN’s minimum crash test standards are also needed. If this happens every new car sold in India would have a proper crash structure and airbags.”
Global NCAP Secretary General David Ward said: “We welcome the initiative of the Indian government to launch its own NCAP and recommend that this positive step is combined with the application of the UN regulations for frontal and side impact. Prompt action like this would prevent the introduction of brand new models like the Datsun Go, which has body structure so weak that is pointless to fit an airbag.” Mr Ward added that “It is disappointing to see a global company like Nissan launch a new car design in 2014 that so clearly falls below UN safety standards. This runs counter to the objectives of the UN Decade of Action.”
Rohit Baluja, President of the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) said: “Consumers are not yet aware of the safety aspects of the vehicle they purchase. The consumer believes that the automobiles they are purchasing meet the best safety standards. While deciding to purchase the vehicle the consumer does not yet consider safety as a deciding parameter. This awareness needs to be created. It must be the responsibility of both the vehicle manufacturer and seller to provide this information to the consumer and make this aspect the basis of marketing. Referring to The Prime Minister’s campaign “Make in India”, the call is “not just make in India, but make the highest quality of products in India which match the best of global standards.”
Baluja complimented the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways for their initiative with the Automobile Industry to start the process of the Indian NCAP as well as towards framing a regulatory structure. Baluja however laid emphasis that while USA initiated the process of having an NCAP as early as 1979, and most automobile manufacturing countries have followed suit, India is far behind schedule and must complete both the regulatory and NCAP consumer information process not later than 2016.
The DATSUN GO scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and just two stars for child occupant protection. The Datsun GO’s vehicle structure collapsed in the crash and was rated as unstable. The car’s lack of airbags meant that the driver’s head makes direct contact with the steering wheel and dashboard – the dummy readings indicate a high probability of life-threatening injuries. However the failure of the body shell makes it redundant to fit an airbag. The two-star rating for child protection is due mainly to the poor performance of the Child Restraint System.
Suzuki Maruti Swift
The SUZUKI MARUTI SWIFT scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and just one star for child occupant protection. The Swift’s vehicle structure showed signs of collapsing in the crash and was rated as unstable. The car’s lack of standard-fit airbags meant that the driver’s head makes direct contact with the steering wheel – the dummy readings indicate a high probability of life threatening injuries. Unlike the Go, fitting airbags would improve occupant protection. The Swift’s poor child protection score is due mainly to the poor performance of the Child Restraint System.
In January 2014, Global NCAP published crash test results for five of India’s best-known cars: the Suzuki Maruti Alto 800, the Hyundai i10, the Ford Figo, the Volkswagen Polo, and the Tata Nano. All the cars received zero-star adult protection ratings. Volkswagen has since decided to offer the Polo for sale in India with two airbags as standard. This model subsequently received a four-star safety rating.
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