BMW directed to pay Rs 1 lakh to man as airbags fail to deploy

Teja claimed that the shattered glass pieces of the windscreen left him with permanent scars due to lack of airbag deployment in their car.
BMW logo used as a representational image
BMW logo used as a representational imagePhoto | @BMW

HYDERABAD: The National Consumer Forum, Hyderabad-1, has directed the German car manufacturer BMW to pay a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 for causing distress to Hyderabad residents, who alleged that the car’s airbags failed to function at the time of collision, leading to injuries.

In March 2022, when the complainant, Shriram Shimha Teja, was travelling from Pondicherry to Nagapattinam, his car BMW 3 Series GT - collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction, resulting in significant damage to the vehicle.

Teja claimed that the shattered glass pieces of the windscreen left him with permanent scars due to lack of airbag deployment in their car.

‘Threshold not reached’

However, the Gurugram-based BMW India Private Limited argued that the impact of the accident was absorbed by the crumple zone (structural areas in the front and rear of a vehicle that are designed to absorb energy) of the vehicle, adding that the deployment of airbags was not necessary.

The renowned car manufacturer maintained that the minimum threshold limit required for the deployment of airbags was not reached and that they were not designed to be deployed in the event of impact on the windscreen.

‘No defect in car’

Noting that there was no defect in their car, BMW, in its report, added, “In such situations, the airbag system must not trigger airbags as the safety belt provides sufficient protection.”

Citing Section 16 of the Sale of Goods Act, 1930 (conditions pertaining to the quality of a product) and relying on the principle of res ipsa loquitur (things speak for themselves), the Commission observed that the deployment of the airbags would have prevented injuries to the passengers, particularly those seated in the front.

“A consumer is not meant to be an expert in physics calculating the impact of a collision on theories based on velocity and force,” it asserted.

“Ordinarily, a consumer while purchasing a vehicle with airbags would assume that the same would be deployed whenever there is a collision. The same was my thought when I bought the BMW car worth `50.50 lakh in 2019,” Teja told TNIE.

The commission has ordered the BMW to comply with the order within 45 days from April 8, failing which an interest of 6% per annum will be levied on the compensation amount.

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