Recent media reports have claimed that Maruti Suzuki has refused to send its vehicles for NCAP crash tests. However, these reports have failed to mention the fact that NCAP does not source vehicles from manufacturers, but attains them independently. While a manufacturer may pro-actively provide its vehicles for crash tests, NCAP usually sources vehicles themselves to maintain objectivity of the test so that OEMs cannot send vehicles specifically designed to pass the crash tests.
Global NCAP (New car assessment program) is an independent body that is regarded as an industry-standard in terms of vehicle safety with their assessment of crash tests globally. As per their working parameters, NCAP independently sources vehicles from all automotive manufacturers in two trim levels – with basic safety features equipped and with better active safety features equipped variants. The vehicles are then put through heavy scrutiny after multiple crash assessments and then scored. Vehicles performances are then awarded between 0-5-stars for adult occupant and 0-5-stars for child occupant. NCAP assesses on how the impact is absorbed by the vehicle, how the vehicle’s structure deforms and how much of the energy from the impact is transferred to the occupants with the help of crash-test dummies. All of this is done in order to spread awareness globally about vehicle safety.
Maruti Suzuki has stated that while its vehicles meet all the necessary occupant safety requirements as required by the Indian government. However, it urges for an India-specific safety rating program as it claims that Global NCAP’s assessments are European market-specific and doesn’t take Indian driving conditions, infrastructure and accident situations into considerations.
CV Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engineering), MSIL released the following statement –
“Maruti Suzuki is committed to offering safer cars to its consumer. In view of this objective, the company took initiatives to upgrade its entire range of vehicles to meet crash and pedestrian regulations much ahead of the defined timeframe.
· Need to appreciate that considering Indian conditions, Government of India mandated certain additional regulations such as driver airbags, ABS, Rear parking sensor, seat belt reminder and speed alert system from 2019 apart from crash and pedestrian norms. These regulations are not present anywhere in the world. All Maruti Suzuki models comply with all these regulations by offering technologies, which are valued by consumers. In addition, the company offers co-driver airbag as standard equipment in all its range of products except entry/mid-level hatchback cars where this feature is optional.
· NCAP (New car assessment program) is a consumer awareness program being used in Europe to bring more awareness about safety among consumers of different models.
· Since Europe and India driving conditions, infrastructure conditions and accident situations are completely different, therefore there is a need to build an India-specific safety rating program (BNVSAP) based on a scientific method using India accident data analysis. SIAM and MoRTH are working in this direction.
· We are committed to working with Government to build accident data based on which a regulation roadmap for India and BNVSAP program for India can be prepared which can help in reducing fatalities on Indian road and at the same time bring consumer awareness and consciousness towards safer mobility.”
Global NCAP’s recent campaign called Safer Cars for India has taken many India specific vehicles and given their assessments. Initially, the results were shocking. In the first batch of cars, nearly none of the vehicles passed the test. But the Indian auto industry has moved forward since and now, we have five vehicles from two manufacturers – Mahindra and Tata, that have been awarded 5-stars for their vehicles.
However, Maruti Suzuki hasn’t fared equally well in these tests. The dual-airbag equipped models of the Ertiga was given three stars, while the WagonR and Swift only managed a two-star rating. However, the Vitara Brezza, built on the older underpinnings of the previous generation Swift scored four stars, which was the best performing vehicle from the brand. All of these cars that were tested were manufactured in India.
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