Recently, Global National Car Assessment Programme aka Global NCAP, conducted a crash test of the updated Renault Kwid and Honda Mobilio. The MPV from the Japanese carmaker scored zero out of five in the tests, however, this Mobilio was the base version. For the variant equipped with dual front airbags, the Mobilio managed three stars in overall safety of all occupants in the car.
The second contender, Renault Kwid with airbags scored one star over the earlier scored naught. David Ward, Secretary General, Global NCAP said, “Renault and Honda make safe cars in other markets and they have the know-how to make all their Indian cars much safer. We expect them to start doing so now.” This is the second time the Kwid has gone through the test and faired marginally better thanks to driver-side airbag and seat belt pretensioners. This has helped the French carmaker improve the safety standard on the hatchback. “Renault has made limited progress and they should be offering their one-star cars as a standard version and not as an option. Honda too has shown that with two airbags they can achieve 3 stars. These safety systems should not be options,” added Ward.
Cars with airbags as standard would surely take cost up in a rather price sensitive segment such as the entry-level model range. The Renault Kwid also falls in this category, however, this safety feature can be provided as an option on all variants if there is a feasibility on the same. This gives the rather price (and not safety) conscious buyer an option not to buy the hatchback with airbags. At the rating of the Global NCAP test of the Kwid, Renault India has stated, “Safety is of paramount importance for Renault and all our products meet and exceed the requisite safety standards set by Indian Regulatory Authorities. India is gradually moving towards international safety norms by including more robust safety regulations and the assurance of the Bharat NCAP is a positive step in this direction. As a customer-focused company, Renault fully supports this initiative and we are already future-ready in terms of technology, design and engineering for enhanced safety for all our vehicles. Indian Government has announced that the crash test regulation for the existing cars will come into effect in 2019 and for the new cars in 2017. Renault fully supports this.”
Honda Car India also stated, “The star ratings released by Global NCAP recently were the results done on two variants of Mobilio, namely the V grade equipped with Dual Front Airbags and another Base variant without Airbags. In both the tests, the Mobilio body was found to be stable and survival space for passengers was maintained after collision, with no A pillar collapse. Furthermore, the opening and shutting of doors were possible after the collision, which is an important factor in rescue operations. This result was achieved with Honda’s original vehicle body structure, Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body, which is applied to all Honda models across the world and takes care of the most inherent safety requirement of our cars. Safety is the highest priority for Honda Cars India Ltd. All Honda vehicles produced in India meet or exceed the safety standards set by the Indian regulatory authorities. Safety features like airbags are applied as per regulations and market preferences, which are a function of driving conditions and driving habits. As per the dynamics of the changes in the market requirements, we appropriately respond to customer interests and needs. Accordingly, we have already announced our safety direction in India and all Honda vehicles in our line-up will be equipped with dual SRS airbags as standard by April 2017.” Not only would this be a good move by any vehicle manufacturer in the country, it would also offer more safety for a tad higher price of a product.
So, should buyers look at purchasing base versions of vehicles? In realistic terms, the safety systems like a rigid body structure, airbags, ABS with EBD, etc are all present in a vehicle to save the occupants in case of a crash. And in India, the progress of vehicles in terms of technology has increased faster than the consciouss-ness of the buyer for safety systems in a car. This mindset puts road users at a huge risk and hopefully the consumers and carmakers will soon start treating safety as a standard offering and not optional.