Safety features will hold key to Indian cars on European roads

Many cars,including those from Tata Motors and Mahindra,about to hit the market,are set to have more integrated safety features.

Written by Arun Jayan | Pune | Published: January 22, 2009 1:15 am

Many cars,including those from Tata Motors and Mahindra,about to hit the market,are set to have more integrated safety features. With Indian companies eyeing the European market and manufacturers looking to up the ante,one company set to get the wheels rolling with Indian auto majors is MIRA Ltd,UK automotive engineering specialist,which provides expertise to three Indian vehicles awaiting launch,including a small car.

“Many Indian companies,including Tata Motors,Mahindra and Ashok Leyland,are associated with us. People in Europe are more aware about safety mechanism for automobiles. European customers attach more importance to star ratings given by The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP),” said Jim Hopton of MIRA,UK,talking to The Express. Hopton,in Pune to attend a symposium on international automotive technology held by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI),said future niche areas included advanced driver assistance,warning assistance and collision avoidance and intervention systems.

Addressing the gathering,chief guest at the symposium,Lord Peter Mandelson,Secretary of State for business,Enterprise and Regulatory Reform,UK stressed the need for partnership between auto majors of Indian and UK origin. “We are setting up a business office in Banglore to support and encourage Indian companies entering joint ventures with UK counterparts. UK companies are well positioned to help Indian firms realise development plans,” he said.

“In Europe,the Euro NCAP publishes safety reports on new cars,and awards ‘star ratings’ (1 to 5) based on performance in a variety of crash tests,including front,side and pole impacts,and impacts with pedestrians. In 1997,80 per cent of the cars could attain only two stars but starting 2005,95 per cent cars got 4-5 stars. Now,the Indian auto companies are keen on matching European safety standards and our Indian clients are aiming for four stars,” Hopton said.

Terry Spell,vice president of MIRA,Shanghai,said more sophisticated technologies are coming up in the industry in safety engineering and that Indian companies could soon adapt to the change. “Active braking system,adaptive cruise control and other technologies are now in the offing. Most of the cars in Europe comes with anti-submerging seats,dual stage,sophisticated airbags among others,” he said.

MIRA,which has 400 niche engineers,was started 60 years ago as Motor Industry Research Association and was then funded by the UK government. It later became a company. In India,it has a business office in Chennai.

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