ADAC, the authority behind the EuroNCAP crash safety programme that assesses how safe European cars are, has just gone global. Under the new Global NCAP tests, they have picked the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Tata Nano, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo as these comprise over twenty per cent of the small cars sold today.
The method was simple: they purchased the base variants of each of these cars at Indian dealers and shipped them to Germany to their crash-testing facility. They also invited the manufacturers to observe the tests if they so wished. The tests were conducted at 64kph against a non-deforming barrier.
Of the five cars tested, none passed. Out of a possible five-star rating, each of the cars got zero stars. The Figo and Polo had good structural integrity, and the Figo with two airbags even managed a rating of four stars. In response, Volkswagen India has withdrawn the sales of non-airbag variants, and will provide two airbags across all variants, effective immediately.
Of the cars tested, the Polo passed as VW requested ADAC to consider the two-airbag version of the Polo since that is standard now; this request was accepted and offered to the rest of the manufacturers as well. The non-airbag Figo passed as the driver’s head narrowly missed hitting the steering wheel during the test.
These tests have shown that most Indian cars on the road aren’t at global standards. There are a lot of arguments being put forward from quarters that the tests weren’t fair, but we’d just like to point out that we still remain the country with the highest number of road fatalities every year. We need all the safety we can get. To this end, if a manufacturer like VW could lead the way with standardising preventive safety features like ABS instead of merely reacting to a study with the minimum possible passive safety features, maybe the rest will follow suit. Educating the consumer properly about the safety features will also help a shift of thought towards making safer cars more desirable, and both these steps will help knock us off the top spot of that list.