Big car makers fall short of the first mark in Indian NCAP crash tests, highlighting a serious shortage of safety equipment

Models from Renault, Hyundai, Mahindra and Suzuki subsidiary Maruti Suzuki have received zero star ratings in Indian NCAP tests, due to a dearth of standard safety features and structural integrity.

Popular models in India such as the Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Mahindra Scorpio and Hyundai Eon all received zero stars for adult occupant protection in standard specification, demonstrating how unsafe these models can be in the event of an accident.

Only the Renault Kwid received a star rating when an optional airbag was added, but at just one star it falls well short of the mark set in other regions.

More than 135,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in India.

David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP voiced his concerns over the latest results, highlighting the involvement of some of the world’s leading car makers.

"The latest results show how important it is for cars to have a body shell that can remain stable in a crash. This is an absolutely crucial prerequisite for occupant safety together with fitment at least of front airbags.

“It is very surprising that a manufacturer like Renault introduced the Kwid initially lacking this essential feature.”

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Car makers have argued that in order for them to sell vehicles to markets such as India with low starting prices, safety equipment has to be kept optional. The Renault Kwid, for example, costs from around £3000, which is close to half the price of the UK’s cheapest new car, the Dacia Sandero. But Global NCAP argues that all cars should meet a minimum requirement, and has urged the Indian government to enforce tougher minimum standards.

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“[We] strongly believe that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard,” added Ward. “Car makers must ensure that their new models pass the UN's minimum crash test regulations, and support use of an airbag.”

Most of the manufacturers involved in this latest announcement produce models in other markets with far higher safety ratings. One of Renault’s smallest European models, the Twingo, has a four star rating, and Suzuki’s European-version of the Celerio has three.

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Ward highlighted the difference in rating between the markets, again focusing on Renault: "We welcome Renault's efforts to correct this and we look forward to testing another improved version with airbags. Renault has a strong record of achievement in safety in Europe and it should offer the same commitment to its customers in India."

India is set to create a new crash safety test procedure called the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme, which is being set up by the government and will enforce standard fitment of airbags, ABS and seat belts. The programme doesn’t kick off until 2018, however, meaning manufacturers are still able to produce zero star-rated cars for 18 more months.

Renault has now voiced its intentions to improve its models sold in India, and says a safer Kwid will be developed for further testing.

Join the debate



17 May 2016
Surely this is more of a scandal than the emissions fiddling isn't it? Or maybe it doesn't matter because it's in India rather than California? Renault and Suzuki should be ashamed, but in a profit driven world, they're probably quite proud.

17 May 2016
It's easy to criticise makers for not putting safety to the fore but the commercial reality is that buyers aren't prepared to pay for safety and that's especially true in India where people have a terrifyingly lax view of personal safety. If Renault and others were to offer only cars with a full suite of airbags, ABS, ESP and so on they just wouldn't sell. Only legislation will make these features available on cheap cars, just like everywhere else.
Anyway, no matter how dangerous a Kwid is - and it isn't any worse than cars sold in the developed world ten or twenty years ago - it's a lot better than somebody putting his whole family on a scooter.

17 May 2016
These manufacturers know full well that without an airbag their cars will get zero stars. They know also that despite this publicity, few consumers will be aware of the star rating so they will continue to sell cars with no airbags knowing full well quite a few of their customers will be killed or seriously injured. What do you do with a company that so blatantly puts profits ahead of lives? In the Us it would lead to massive lawsuits. Why can't it in India?

17 May 2016
Global NCAP say "The new Kwid without an airbag scored zero stars in the adult occupant protection and two stars in child occupant protection. The structure did not collapse however it was rated as unstable and that it could not withstand further loadings. It was possible to see the structural reinforcements implemented in this version of the Kwid but when Global NCAP checked the left (passenger) side, there were no reinforcements. The structure was reinforced only on the driver side."

Structural reinforcements on one side only, just to pass the test! Incredible. Honda may be doing something similar, selling the Jazz with extra safety equipment in the USA to pass the small overlap test, but not adding that equipment in other markets – unconfirmed but likely.

The industry is riddled with this sort of thing it seems. We need some good old-fashioned investigative journalism to root it out.

17 May 2016
I can see the car manufacturers arguments though, that in developing countries, if the basic cars are to expensive than they won't sell.

Like in most things we have choices, if in India someone wants a new low price car they can choose to buy it, but if they want one with safety they can choose to go second hand.

If it's what the people of the country want it's their choice.

17 May 2016
Add the safety equipment, raise the price and lose sales to people who can't afford the car and continue to ride scooters and motorbikes, on which women can ride pillion without a helmet. How safe is that? I'd far rather be in a Kwid than a motorized rickshaw.

17 May 2016
Its still safer than putting your whole family on a moped as can be seen regularly in India. As 275not599 has pointed out, India is a very poor country, the cheapest car in the test is the equivalent of £3000 and the average daily wage is about £5 or less.

17 May 2016
I'm not sure what people were expecting when a car costs £3000 brand new? A lot of things would have to give.

17 May 2016
Look at the picture with this article, that is not going to be fixed by slapping an airbag on the steering wheel.


17 May 2016
If I were getting a car in a BRICs type country, I think I would head straight for Volvo. There are no guarantees that other marques, including prestige ones will incorporate all the safety features present in countries with more developed crash testing regimes. For instance, it would not surprise me one jot if VW, Mercedes etc didn't have small overlap crash protection in place for EU markets, simply because it isn't tested here. Volvo always pass whatever crash / safety test they take with flying colours. In the recently introduced IIHS small overlap crash test, the Volvo S60 was the only car to get a good rating. Mercedes etc all got rated poor. When asked by the IIHS, Volvo simply said all the crash data they had showed small overlap protection was important for saving lives, so they started building it into their cars.


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