United Kingdom-based vehicle testing agency Global NCAP on Tuesday awarded zero star safety rating for the Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Mahindra Scorpio and Hyundai Eon following a crash test.
This is the second time in three years that the agency has conducted a random test on India-made cars. In 2014, Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo showed similar results.
With cumulative bookings of 125,000 units, the Kwid has emerged one of the country's best-sellers. However, the three versions tested by the agency, including one with airbags, was rated as zero star for adult safety. The report went on to label the Kwid as sub-standard.
David Ward, secretary-general, Global NCAP, said, “The latest results show how important it is for cars to have a body shell that can remain stable in a crash. This is an absolutely crucial pre-requisite for occupant safety, together with fitment at least of front air bags. It is very surprising that a manufacturer like Renault introduced the Kwid initially lacking this essential feature. Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard.”
A majority of Indian carmakers, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors, do not offer airbags as standard, whereas Toyota and Volkswagen have switched to offering the life-saving feature across all models.
The tests come a year before new regulations under the Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme (BNVSAP) come in force in October 2017. BNVSAP (to be later renamed Bharat NCAP) could make it mandatory for vehicles to undergo frontal and side impact tests, besides having airbags as a standard offering.
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Carmakers are, thus, raising questions over the validity of the Global NCAP crash test, since India is already on its way to have its own car safety assessment programme.
“Global NCAP tests were relevant in 2014, when India had not notified its owns crash test and safety norms. Last year, the government notified these norms that will become mandatory from October 2017," said a senior executive with a Delhi-based car manufacturer.
Renault said it remains committed to complying with the timelines set by the Indian government towards implementing the BNVSAP.
In a statement, Maruti Suzuki said, “All our products are safe. They meet the safety standards of India and in most cases, exceed them. The tests by global NCAP are conducted at speeds that are higher than those prescribed by the regulatory authorities not only in India but in Europe and USA. The results of Global NCAP have to be seen in that perspective.”
Ward urged Indian carmakers to “not wait for legislation and act to eliminate all zero star cars from production as soon as possible”. With the exception of Volkswagen, none of the automakers, whose cars were tested in 2014, provides airbags as a standard feature on all models.
M&M Scorpio, one of the best-selling SUVs in India, scored zero stars in the adult occupant protection and two stars in child occupant protection. The collapse of the structure combined with the lack of airbags explains the score for the adult occupants protection, which means there is a high probability of life-threatening injuries for at least one of the adult passengers, the Global NCAP report said.
“The star rating in the latest crash test was conducted on non-airbags variant of the Scorpio. Typically, in any star rating process, non-airbag variants do not perform well on safety standards. Most variants of the Scorpio are equipped with airbags and a safety package. About 75 per cent of Scorpio customers choose the air bags variant of the vehicle,” M&M said.