not have a mandatory crash test for its vehicles. This enabled car makers in
the country to keep costs low without really meeting global safety standards.
Now the cat is out of the bag. The first-ever independent crash tests of some
of India’s popular and important small cars have shown a high-risk of life
threatening injuries in road crashes. All the cars selected by Global NCAP for
testing in a frontal impact at 64kmph received zero-star adult protection ratings.
The models tested included India’s best-selling
car, the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800. The Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and
Volkswagen Polo also underwent the safety assessment. Combined sales of these
five cars account for around 20pc of all the new cars sold in India last year. Global
NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model and as a result none were
fitted with airbags as standard. The results highlight major differences in the
structural integrity of the vehicles tested.
In the Suzuki-Maruti
Alto 800, the Tata Nano and the 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 were such that fitting airbags would not be
effective in reducing the risk of serious injury. The 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.
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