It is overwhelming to see homegrown PV manufacturers are leading by example, by engineering and making safe cars for India.
After the launch, Nano made headlines for all wrong reasons, whether catching fire or scoring poorly in GNCAP. Original intent was to shift people from 2-wheeler, which inherently considered as unsafe, to confinement of metal shell with some relative protection in event of accident. But then, ‘relative’ seems to be wrong choice of word, when it comes to safety, unfortunately, if one die, they die.
Even before the GNCAP testing started in 2014, Tata Motors came up with transformation strategy in 2013 called Horizonext.
First product came under new strategy, was Tata Zest, a reengineered version of failed Indigo Manza, in sub 4m footprint. It did scored 0 star without airbags as standard equipment.
GNCAP Note Zest without airbag : The protection offered to the driver head was poor and for this reason the star capping was applied. Driver’s chest protection was poor, Passenger’s chest protection was marginal. The front passengers’ knees could impact with dangerous structures in the dashboard lie the Tran fascia tube. The bodyshell was rated as unstable and it was not capable of withstanding any further loadings
But then Tata Motors came up with 2 airbags version which scored 4 star, and that shows the significance of airbags as secondary restraining system. Still body shell from older platform, was found to be unstable by GNCAP.
GNCAP Note Zest with 2 airbags :
The protection offered to the driver head was Adequate due to bottoming out of the driver airbag. Driver chest protection as marginal. Passenger’s head and chest protection was good. The front passengers’ knees could impact with dangerous structures in the dashboard lie the Tran fascia tube. The bodyshell was rated as unstable and it was not capable of withstanding any further loadings. The car offers driver Seat Belt Reminder.
Then came Nexon with 4 Star and later with 5 star rating. In fact, now, cheapest car from Tata’s stable – Tiago – has scored 4 Star in crash test.
Altroz and Nexon both undercuts competition when it comes to prices, still are safe. So, it is not mere about airbags, but it is all about engineering and intent of not cutting cost in structural elements which transfers or absorbs collision impact energy. Mahindra
GNCAP testing didn’t started too well for Mahindra. First car to be tested was Mahindra Scorpio, without any airbags. Results were alarming for what is butch looking, and seems that it can take on anything coming in its way, but could not protect its occupant in real life crash situation.
GNCAP 2016 Note: “The protection offered to the driver head and chest was poor and the passenger’s chest received marginal protection. The passengers’ knees could impact with dangerous structures in the dashboard. The bodyshell was rated as unstable and can not withstand further loadings.”
Redemption started with Marazzo, which was awarded with 4-star rating in 2018. If one reads the press note carefully, it was claimed to be engineered in American land. Notwithstanding that, it was right step, in right direction.
Come 2020, and another Mahindra product – XUV 300, came with flying colors and scored highest GNACP rating for any car in India. XUV 300 is basically a derivative of Ssangyong Tivoli, from now bankrupt subsidiary of Mahindra.
Another feather in cap, is, recently launched new generation Thar. Undeniably, its Jeep Wrangler rip-off, but then it scored 4 star in crash test rating, whereas Jeep Wrangler scored measly 1 star in Euro NCAP crash test.
For now, complacency is worst enemy for both Tata and Mahindra, and they need to push the bar even higher with all their future launches, and lead by example for other manufacturers.
Also, just like BS6 emission norms implementation by skipping BS5 stage, Government should make crash test ratings mandatory for cars to be sold in India, and penalize those who are hesitant to comply, because every life matters!