Why Indian Lives Are Less Valuable Than Europeans?

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari recently called out the double standards of some car manufacturers who were not providing the same safety features in cars sold in India as those provided in the same model of vehicles for exports to other countries.

Mahindra XUV 300 Crash Test

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari recently called out the double standards of some car manufacturers who were not providing the same safety features in cars sold in India as those provided in the same model of vehicles for exports to other countries.

What is he talking about? And is it true? How long has this been going on? We will examine all of this and more here-

Double Standards

For example Hyundai i20 Tests

i20 sold in India scored a 3-star rating for both adults and child in the 2022 tests, Whereas the European spec i20, when tested by EuroNCAP in 2016, received a four-star rating, as did the model sold in Australia, when tested by ANCAP.

Four stars for Toyota Urban Cruiser and three for Hyundai Creta and i20 in latest Indian crash test results

Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Global NCAP said (12/04/2022), “Although the overall star rating of these models might seem reasonable, the continued reluctance of manufacturers like Hyundai and Toyota to equip safety systems such as ESC and side body and head protection airbags as a basic requirement in India is disappointing. This is why Global NCAP welcomes the Indian government’s initiative of increasing side impact protection requirements and why Global NCAP will update its test protocols from July. Success in the rating assessment will then only be possible if these improved safety features are included as standard.”

David Ward, Executive President of the Towards Zero Foundation said, “We have seen steady progress in the safety rating of models tested in India over the last six years. It’s been especially welcome that domestic automakers in India have risen to Global NCAP’s safety challenge. Global players like Toyota and Hyundai should follow their lead.”

Who Is Doing This?

The companies who sell the largest in volume are the biggest culprits, their entry-level cars score very poorly in Global as well as in EuroNCAP similar products sold by the same companies manufactured for the European/US markets do better.

The culprits are Toyota, Maruti and Hyundai but not limited to them. Maruti and Hyundai are also the biggest sellers in the entry-level hatchback segment for more than two decades, these cars score poorly in the safety ratings.

Popular cars like Maruti Alto, the old Wagon R, Hyundai Santro (first gen), Hyundai Eon, and Renault Kwid will fall in this segment though the engine sizes of many of these were upgraded safety did not seem to have seen similar improvements.

Maruti Alto (all versions) sold 3.8 million cars from 2008 to November 2019.

More than 1.3 million Hyundai Santro (all versions) have been sold by Hyundai India till 2014, but the 2018 model did not get the same response from customers.

This also means that a vast majority of entry-level cars have poor safety levels.

(This segment is classified by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) as cars shorter than 3,600 mm in length and engines smaller than 1.0-litre.)

Some Of The Shocking Test Results

Video Link

Video Courtesy: Global NCAP

Maruti Suzuki S-Presso rated ZERO in Latest Global NCAP Crash Tests -  Nov 11, 2020

Maruti Suzuki has achieved a disappointing zero-star rating in Global NCAP’s new round of #SaferCarsForIndia crash tests. The S-Presso was only fitted with a driver airbag as standard, achieving zero stars for adult occupant protection and two stars for child occupant protection.

There is no place for zero-rated cars in the Indian market. It remains a great disappointment that an important manufacturer like Maruti Suzuki does not recognise this.

In the Global NCAP 2014 Tests Score on Adult Safety all of them Scored A Big Zero

Suzuki Maruti Alto 800, Suzuki Maruti Swift, The Hyundai i10, The Ford Figo, The Volkswagen Polo, Tata Nano, And Nissan’s Datsun Go.

In January 2014, Global NCAP published crash test results for five of India’s best-known cars: the Suzuki Maruti Alto 800, the Hyundai i10, the Ford Figo, the Volkswagen Polo, and the Tata Nano. All the cars received zero-star adult protection ratings.

In November 2014, Global NCAP published crash test results for Nissan’s Datsun Go and the Suzuki Maruti Swift. Both cars received zero-star adult protection ratings.

Volkswagen has since decided to offer the Polo for sale in India with two airbags as standard. This model subsequently received a four-star safety rating.

Video Link

a. Alto Crash Test 2014  

Video Courtesy: Global NCAP

b. Santro Crash Test 2019

Video Courtesy: Global NCAP
So Shocking were the Results that Global NCAP called for Urgent Withdrawal of Datsun Go

Max Mosley, Global NCAP Chairman said: “It is extremely disappointing that Nissan has authorised the launch of a brand new model that is so clearly sub-standard. As presently engineered the Datsun Go will certainly fail to pass the United Nation’s frontal impact regulation. In these circumstances, I would urge Nissan to withdraw the Datsun Go from sale in India pending an urgent redesign of the car’s body shell.

Global NCAP Calls For Urgent Withdrawal Of Datsun Go

Why Are They Doing This?

Costs seem to drive the decision for this. Tests consistently show that body shell integrity is one of the biggest culprits.

In the event of a crash, the shell is the first line of defence. And the integrity of the shell, which comes primarily through the use of high-tensile steel, and aluminium drives up the cost of manufacturing.

Additional airbags such as side and curtain airbags do not play as much of a role in mitigating the effects of a frontal impact. In the event of a side collision, once again, safety comes down to highly stable and well-built shells, which can add to the vehicle’s overall costs.

In short, the basics are not correct and they need an urgent course correction.

What Does It Mean For The Consumers

For consumers, it means that if they value their own safety and of their loved ones, it will cost them money.

They should do their research before buying a car. Consumers should look for the latest European NCAP ratings or Global NCAP. Links are given below-

#SaferCarsForIndia - Global NCAP


Global NCAP

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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