At the Geneva International Motor Show in March last year, Guenter Butschek, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Motors had announced the company’s unwavering intent in making its vehicles meet the topmost safety crash norms in tests conducted by Global NCAP, considered among the most stringent tests globally.
Recently, the Tata Altroz became the second product from the Tata Motors’ stable to be awarded a 5-star rating for crash; the Nexon SUV was the first made-in-India vehicle to achieve Global NCAP’s coveted 5-star adult safety rating in 2018. Yet another product to get high Global NCAP safety test ratings is the Tigor/Tiago, which achieved a 4-star rating for adult occupant protection and 3-stars for child occupant protection.
In more recent news, the Mahindra XUV300 too received a 5-star safety rating from Global NCAP. In fact, the company has claimed the XUV300 has scored the highest points among all 5-Star rated cars tested so far by Global NCAP. Moreover, it is also the first Indian vehicle to score a 4-Star child safety rating.
For a market that hasn’t been able to bring down accidents, injuries and fatalities on road, despite various stakeholders launching nationwide road safety awareness campaigns, these are no mean feats. India, unfortunately, continues to be the country that account for the highest number of road-related deaths. The government has been doing its bit as well, but clearly a lot is still desired. It was only in October last year that the government mandated equipping vehicles with driver-side airbags, ABS, reverse parking sensors and speed warning systems.
It must also be understood that these results have been achieved at a higher speed norm as compared to the requirements of the Indian test system. Global NCAP, for instance, crash tests vehicles at a speed of 64 km/h, while in India the speed limit is set at 56 km/h. There are arguments and counter arguments on whether the Indian speed limit is adequate to check the safety quotient of vehicles. Many products from leading carmakers, which sell in large numbers in India, have fared very poorly in Global NCAP tests. Without airbags, the Maruti Suzuki Swift and Renault Kwid, for example, got zero stars in tests conducted by Global NCAP. Even the Volkswagen Polo without airbags bagged a 0-star rating, while the variant with airbags got a 4-star rating from the agency.
The resolve shown by Tata Motors and Mahindra towards making their products meet global safety crash norms is indeed praiseworthy. And the fact that they have been able to bring about top-notch safety into mass-market, affordable products augurs well for the entire industry. While safety is an infrangible priority for almost every vehicle maker in the country, these successes would likely encourage them further to escalate the safety element in their products.
DEEPANGSHU DEV SARMAH
February 2020, New Delhi