The worries for Nissan in India seem to have simply grown. Global
NCAP Chairman Max Mosley has now written to Nissan Chairman and CEO, Carlos
Ghosn, calling for an urgent withdrawal of the Datsun Go from the Indian and
related markets. This is a first for NCAP and a major embarrassment for Nissan.
The small car was touted as a beginning of good times for Datsun (a Nissan
brand), especially in the emerging markets of the world.
The Datsun Go small car sold in India 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. And to make matters worse, the Global
NCAP observed that the failure of the body shell makes it redundant to fit an
Global NCAP is an independent charity registered in the
United Kingdom. It serves as a global platform for NCAPs around the world to
exchange best practice in consumer orientated vehicle safety initiatives.
Global NCAP also provides financial and technical assistance to new programmes
in the rapidly motorising countries and regions of Asia and Latin America.
Global NCAP receives financial support from the FIA Foundation, from
International Consumer Testing and Research, from the Road Safety Fund and the
World Bank Global Road Safety Facility.
Recently, the latest crash test results released by Global
NCAP showed that while Nissan’s Datsun Go received a zero-star safety rating
and the Maruti Suzuki Swift scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and
just one star for child occupant protection.
Max Mosley, said in a
press release, “It is extremely disappointing that Nissan has authorised the
launch of a brand new model that is so clearly sub-standard. As presently
engineered the Datsun Go will certainly fail to pass the United Nation’s
frontal impact regulation. In these circumstances I would urge Nissan to
withdraw the Datsun Go from sale in India pending an urgent redesign of the
“Applying the UN’s
minimum crash test standards to all passenger car production worldwide is a key
recommendation of the Global Plan for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. Given
Carlos Ghosn’s responsibilities as Chairman and CEO of Nissan and President of
the European Car Manufacturers Association, he should now demonstrate
leadership both in Nissan and on behalf of the vehicle industry generally that
corresponds to the UN’s legitimate expectation that automobile safety should be
improved during the Decade of Action,” Mosley said.
Global NCAP message for
Earlier, Global NCAP had also welcomed 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, the Global NCAP
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.”
He 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
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 January 2014 bombshell
In January 2014, the first-ever independent crash tests of
some of India’s popular and important small cars had 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 64km/h received zero-star adult protection
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 in 2013.
Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model and
as a result none were fitted with air bags as standard. Around the same time the tests were carried
out Volkswagen had decided to withdraw
the non-airbag version of the Polo from sale in India. Global NCAP agreed to a
request from VW to assess a version of the Polo that had two airbags fitted as
standard from then on.
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