German carmaker Volkswagen on Saturday joined a war of words over the results of a crash test of the Bajaj Qute, a quadricycle tested by the Belgium-based agency Euro Ncap.
Volkswagen accused the Pune-based two- and three-wheeler maker of spreading misleading information about its hatchback Polo that is sold in India.
Last Thursday, Bajaj Auto had said it was delighted to receive a one-star safety rating from Euro Ncap for the Qute, compared to a zero-star rating for regular cars like Volkswagen’s Polo, Tata’s Nano and Ford’s Figo tested by Global Ncap two years ago.
“The information issued by Bajaj Auto with reference to the Volkswagen Polo Ncap rating is misleading, incorrect and without ýmerit. On January 31, 2014, Volkswagen issued a press statement confirming a four-star Global Ncap rating (adult occupants) for its Polo carline in India,” said a VW India spokesperson.
Bajaj’s reaction to the crash test result drew sharp criticism from Global Ncap. In a letter addressed to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, David Ward, secretary-general, Global Ncap wrote, “In the press coverage of the Qute result I was surprised to read that a spokesman for Bajaj was reportedly “delighted” with the one-star score. It is was also very disappointing to read that Bajaj was also reported to be making comparisons between Global NCap’s tests of Indian passenger cars suggesting that the Qute had performed better than cars with a zero-star result.”
“To make such a comparison is misleading and wrong. The Euro NCap quadricycle test uses a full frontal impact at 50 km/hour whereas Global NCap’s passenger car tests use a 40 per cent overlap impact at 64 km/hour. The latter is a much tougher test and should not be used as a relevant comparison,” Ward said.
The Qute was one among the four quadricycles — Aixam Crossover GTR, Chatenet CH30 and Microcar M.GO Family — tested by Euro Ncap.
Only the Chatenet CH30 secured a two-star rating while the other three received one star. The Microcar was the only vehicle fitted with a driver airbag.
The Bajaj quadricycle scored poorly in the tests because of lack of driver or passenger airbags. Its structure was judged unstable in the frontal test, as even a side impact detached the door from the A-pillar. Deformation of the structure indicated it could not have withstood a higher degree of loading, according to the test results. Bajaj Auto, however, said it did not compare the Qute test results with regular cars as the intention was to communicate that the Qute had done relatively better in its tests than the respective cars.
In a late evening media statement released by Bajaj Auto on Friday Rajiv Bajaj slammed Global Ncap stating, “We would equally respectfully suggest that in future Global Ncap reflect a little longer and exhibit greater maturity in drawing conclusions before venturing to cast unwarranted aspersion upon an organisation that has a track record for integrity and performance as does Bajaj Auto.”
Introduced in October last year, the Qute has clocked cumulative exports of 334 quadricycles to 19 markets, including Russia, Turkey, Indonesia and Peru. The Pune-based maker of the Pulsar and KTM motorcycles is ramping up capacity for the Qute at its Waluj facility in Aurangabad to meet increased demand. The company is estimating exports of 10,000 Qutes in this financial year.