A closer look at Global NCAP's Indian car crash tests

You see, the fact that most of these cars did not have airbags did play a part in them failing the tests, but more importantly, the structural integrity of all these cars was laid bare for all to see. If a car is not strong fundamentally, not even a smattering of airbags would help. Like Global NCAP put it, "the extent of the structural weaknesses in these models (Nano, Alto 800 and i10) were such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury."

Remember that speeds of 64kph and 56kph are not alien to us Indians. We drive at such speeds (and higher, when given the chance) on an everyday basis, and collisions like these are highly common on roads that see the highest number of fatalities in the world. Most of these cars may be affordably priced, but that does not allow them to shirk the responsibility of keeping their occupants safe.

It gets more perplexing if you take a look at the Automotive Research Association of India's (ARAI) rule for Indian cars when it comes to offset frontal crash tests. According to the ARAI's procedures, a car needs to be run into a barrier at a speed of 56kph, just like the UN basic safety test. Somehow, these cars clear the Indian test, but fail the UN test.

Speaking to the Times of India about the GNCAP crash test, Tim Leverton, Tata Motors Head - Advanced and Product Engineering, Engineering Research Centre, said, "All our vehicles, including the Tata Nano meet all Indian safety regulations, including the frontal barrier crash test at 48 kmph, as mandated by the government. All our cars on Indian roads, including the Nano are engineered for safety in view of Indian road and traffic conditions".

A Ford spokesperson stated, "Our vehicles consistently meet or exceed applicable industry safety standards. We are monitoring the progress of this review and will work with Indian authorities, GNCAP and the other relevant stake holders as appropriate".

A global standard needs to be followed in India, and it's time we demanded vehicles that are just as safe as other products being sold in the rest of the world. Costs will go up, naturally, but if you can spend five lakh rupees on a car, you could spend Rs 30,000-odd more to make it a lot safer, surely?

(Words: Amaan Ahmed)