If you drive any of these popular small cars, including Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo, you run the risk of suffering life-threatening injuries in road accidents. For, these automobiles have failed the crash tests conducted by Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), a UK-based independent charity focused on consumer-orientated vehicle safety initiatives. The cars received a zero for adult protection ratings in a frontal impact at 64 kmph.
The combined sales of these five cars accounted for around 20 per cent of all new cars sold in India last year, Global NCAP said. According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, 18,07,011 cars were sold in the country in 2013.
Global NCAP chairman Max Mosley said, “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 and standard as customers in other parts of the world.”
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, Mosley added.
The companies named in the Global NCAP report, however, 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, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. “The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models was such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury,” it said.
Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo had structures that remained stable and, therefore, with airbags fitted, protection for the driver and front passenger would be much improved, the report added. 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 56 kmph, 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,” it said.
The Global Plan for the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety recommends that all member states apply this standard, although it is not yet applied in India.
Tim Leverton, head of the Advanced and Product Engineering, Engineering Research Centre, Tata Motors, said, “All our vehicles, including the Tata Nano, meet all Indian safety regulations, including the frontal barrier crash test at 48 kmph, as mandated by the government.”
A spokesperson of Ford India said, “Our vehicles consistently meet or exceed applicable industry safety standards. We are monitoring the progress of this review and will work with Indian authorities, GNCAP and the other relevant stakeholders.”
(With agency inputs)