Global NCAP has conducted first of its kind car to car crash test. This crash test reveals the double standards in car safety applied by car makers.
Getting a Global NCAP rating may or may not be on everyone’s minds, but it’s essential to understand what the data points of a result indicate. Global NCAP Car to Car crash test is one of a kind but hopefully becomes standard practice in many countries, including India.
Global NCAP crashed the 2019 Nissan NP300 Hardbody sold in Africa and a second-hand Nissan Navara NP300 manufactured in Europe in 2015. The video demonstrates that the new African Nissan crash test dummy would have likely sustained fatal injuries. The other would have likely walked away from the crash. The old European car features a crash avoidance anti-skid system, and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which isn’t seen in the model sold in Africa now.
As crash tests are a study at predetermined speed and path, the outcome indicates what can be. And this offers an insight into the crashworthiness of a vehicle. CEO and President of Global NCAP, David Ward says this particular test ‘uniquely illustrates the double standard in vehicle safety performance between models sold in Europe and those sold in Africa.’
The concern though highlighted far far away is one that plagues even India. For example, Maruti Baleno made in India for Indian market, is about 80 kgs lighter than Baleno manufactured in India for export / Europe market. Though it is not clear as to why there is such a huge weight difference, a crash test between Baleno sold in India vs Baleno sold in Europe can surely give some answers.
As the automobile market is still growing in India, and not as developed as a number of European nations, the focus on safety has been negligible, and it is only now that a dialogue around it has begun. In fact there are just over 25 cars that have any sort of a crash test rating that is relevant to India. When it comes to features, India too has always dealt with the handout of stripped cars.
In Africa, the test output shows the new Nissan Hardbody perform significantly worse than the used European Nissan Navara. The simple observation in this case is a new car, which one would expect to have a better body, shell and tech isn’t necessarily safer. This would mean a region that’s on the receiving end of such cars would actually be safer if it relier on used car imports from regions with tougher regulatory requirements for safety, and environmental performance. Sounds bizarre but this is true.
Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, Saul Billingsley asks an important question. Does Nissan believe an African life is worth less than a European life? The answer may not be this straightforward though. It’s the same reason that plastic and toxic waste gets offloaded on ‘lesser nations’. This is a global problem that’s pervaded all business and growth, and car crashworthiness and safety is just another casualty in the larger scheme of things.
Global NCAP is concerned as it aims towards a 2030 target of halving road deaths. For this to be a reality, the governing body says, ‘we must stamp out this kind of unethical behaviour by some in the car industry.’
Willem Groenewald, CEO of the AA said, “We have for a long time been concerned that vehicles available in Africa are inferior to those in other markets such as Europe and Asia, and these results seem to confirm that concern.”
He further explains the result indicates complete disdain for African vehicle consumers and their safety in favour of profit. There is a need for stricter regulation of standards so as to not allow inferior vehicles to be sold in Africa. While such test results do generate interest around a dialogue, they may not necessarily impact buying immediately. In the backdrop of sales slowdown, Maruti Suzuki continues to dominate the market in terms of sales despite not providing customers crash test results. Of course it helps that MSIL has a large vehicle portfolio. Mahindra and Tata have gotten a few of its vehicles crash tested. Mahindra XUV300 is now recognised as India’s safest car. However, it’s yet left to be seen if this can help the car sell in greater numbers than it is at present.