Global NCAP urges safer cars in India and China

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A two-car crash test at the Global NCAP annual meeting in China
A two-car crash test at the Global NCAP annual meeting in China
Global NCAP Chairman Max Mosley joined India's transport chiefs to launch results
Global NCAP Chairman Max Mosley joined India's transport chiefs to launch results

New vehicle crash tests launched in India by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) have demonstrated the need for government regulation to drive up safety standards.

The Datsun Go and the Suzuki Maruti Swift both scored zero stars in Global NCAP's independent crash tests, which are co-funded by the FIA Foundation. Neither car offers air bags as standard.

The Datsun Go scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and just two stars for child occupant protection. The Datsun Go’s vehicle structure collapsed in the crash and was rated as unstable. The car’s lack of airbags meant that the driver’s head makes direct contact with the steering wheel and dashboard – the dummy readings indicate a high probability of life-threatening injuries. However the failure of the body shell makes it redundant to fit an airbag. The two-star rating for child protection is due mainly to the poor performance of the Child Restraint System.

The Suzuki Maruti Swift scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and just one star for child occupant protection. The Swift’s vehicle structure showed signs of collapsing in the crash and was rated as unstable. The car’s lack of standard-fit airbags meant that the driver’s head makes direct contact with the steering wheel – the dummy readings indicate a high probability of life threatening injuries. Unlike the Go, fitting airbags would improve occupant protection. The Swift’s poor child protection score is due mainly to the poor performance of the Child Restraint System.

The Indian Government has announced plans to launch an official India NCAP to test cars, prompted in part by Global NCAP's first round of independent tests in January 2014. But Global NCAP is calling for India to go further by requiring new regulation based on the UN's minimum standards for crash safety.

Global NCAP chairman Max Mosley, said: “India has the potential to be a world leader in the automobile industry but Indian consumers are not aware of how unsafe they would be in case of a crash. That is why we are pleased that India is launching an NCAP consumer testing programme. This would be a step forward for safety but regulations based on the UN’s minimum crash test standards are also needed. If this happens every new car sold in India would have a proper crash structure and airbags.”

Rohit Baluja, President of India's Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), which hosted the launch, said: “Consumers are not yet aware of the safety aspects of the vehicle they purchase. The consumer believes that the automobiles they are purchasing meet the best safety standards. While deciding to purchase the vehicle the consumer does not yet consider safety as a deciding parameter. This awareness needs to be created. It must be the responsibility of both the vehicle manufacturer and seller to provide this information to the consumer and make this aspect the basis of marketing. Referring to The Prime Minister’s campaign “Make in India”, the call is “not just make in India, but make the highest quality of products in India which match the best of global standards.”

The new test results came a few days after China's Automotive Technology & Research Centre (CATARC) in Tianjin, the test centre for China NCAP, hosted Global NCAP's Annual Meeting. The meeting brought together representatives of ASEAN, Australasian, China, European, Japan, Korean, Latin and US NCAPs and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and was also attended by HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO. For the FIA Foundation, Rita Cuypers, Director of Partnerships, attended and spoke in a special session on the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. The event concluded with a car-to-car crash test in front of the assembled delegates. At the meeting Global NCAP launched the 'Tianjin Declaration' calling for all UN Member States to make the benefits of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) a standard fit on all cars worldwide during the current UN Decade of Action.

Global NCAP’s Secretary General David Ward said: “ESC is the most significant advance in vehicle safety since the introduction of the seatbelt. The anti-skid technology has helped prevent hundreds of thousands of loss of control crashes, saving tens of thousands of lives. Like seatbelts, legislators and automakers should now ensure that all new cars everywhere have ESC.”

Welcoming the Global NCAP initiatives, Saul Billingsley, Director General of the FIA Foundation, said: "The test results for the Datsun Go and the Suzuki Maruti Swift are appalling and inexcusable. In 2014, four years into the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, with all we know about vehicle safety and the global toll of road death and injury, no car manufacturer should be bringing to market cars with such poor safety performance. The FIA Foundation urges the Government of India to respond and adopt new vehicle safety regulations that at minimum meet the UN's vehicle standards. We also endorse the call for all countries to include ESC as standard in new cars by the end of the Decade of Action. These events in China and India show the huge impact Global NCAP is having in promoting safer vehicles around the world, and the FIA Foundation is pleased to be a core supporter of such important work."

Click here to see the test results of the Datsun Go >

Click here to see the test results of the Suzuki Maruti >

Read the 'Tianjin Declaration' on ESC >