Passenger safety was an underlying theme at an expo that comes days after a number of popular cars sold in India had fallen short in tests by an independent, UK-based body.
Cars in India do meet the government’s active and passive safety norms, said Maruti Suzuki India’s executive director (engineering) C V Raman, but these norms are at a level European norms. And the norms of Global NCAP, which tested the cars, are at a level higher than even the European standards, Raman said. He felt that currently in India, the safety aspect ranks low on the list of the customer’s priorities .
Raman said car firms are planning a safety roadmap in partnership with the government, with “Indian NCAP” protocols to be introduced based on traffic and road conditions here. The country’s largest carmaker is also setting up an R&D facility in Rohtak, and it will have a crash lab.
Hyundai Motor India’s senior vice president and division head, marketing and sales, Rakesh Srivastava stressed passenger safety. “You cannot compare our cars built on the basis of Indian standards to norms in Europe,” he agreed, but added, “As far as safety features are concerned, we offer our consumers all features even now, in a higher price bracket.”
Ford India unveiled a series of futuristic safety technologies that it plans for its cars, including lane-departure alerts, a laser sensor-driven, blind-spot information system that warns of hidden hazards, and a technology for preventing collisions at speeds below 30 kph. Tata Motors too has assured work on the safety of its cars after a range of small Indian cars, including its Nano, failed the NCAP crash tests. Tata Motors’ president for passenger vehicles, Ranjit Yadav, said the company would ensure its cars meet global safety standards. “Tata Motors is extremely committed to safety and we will be working on that. I have also said these cars are for global markets, so they will meet safety requirements wherever they are going,” Yadav said.
The test was conducted in Malaysia on January 31 on the Maruti Alto 800, the Tata Nano, the Ford Figo, the Hyundai i10 and the Volkswagen Polo. They got a zero rating for protection in a frontal impact at 64 kph. Even bike manufacturers are looking at improving safety, with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter unveiling plans to have airbags even in its high-end motorcycles. It has started using the cartoon character Chhota Bheem to spread a message of safety in its rural market.
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