Now, the Indian Government is working on launching its own ‘New Car Assessment Programme’. As mobility trends evolve, developed nations are working on policies to reduce road traffic fatalities and improving fuel efficiency. Emerging economies like Brazil, China, India and Indonesia are faced with rapid motorisation and urbanisation resulting in increased road deaths, and dysfunctional traffic congestion contributing to high air pollution.
India road safety concerns are high
In Latin America, ASEAN and India need for independent car crash tests is pointing to vehicle quality offered by car manufacturers with standards followed at times being 20 years behind current European Union and United States protocols revealing a ‘race to the bottom’ in emerging markets. Rapid improvement has seen Latin America an ASEAN region producing home-grown four and five star cars. Increasingly, consumer demand for clear safety information is becoming a focus area.
iRAP estimates that a single star rating improvement for a road halves fatal crash risk, and so on. Road safety assessments are crucial, and development banks need to lay top emphasis on accountability measures . In case of tackling vehicle emissions to improve air quality. International Council on Clean Transportation research reveals each year of delay in implementing proposed low-sulphur limits and emissions standards in India will take at least 13,000 lives.
The first independent crash tests of some of India’s popular small cars (Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo,
Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo) revealed high-risk of life threatening injuries in road crashes with testing for frontal impact at 64km/h resulting in zero-star adult protection ratings.
Combined sales of the 5 cars accounted for about 20% of all new cars sold in India in 2013. Global NCAP chose entry-level variants as none were fitted with air bags as standard. In Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10 extent of structural weaknesses were such that fitting airbags would not result in reducing risk of serious injury. Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo structures were found to be stable and with airbags fitted, driver and front passenger protection stands much improved. Volkswagen Polo in India was immediately fitted with 2 airbags as standard and received a revised four-star rating for adult occupant protection. In November, Maruti Swift and Datsun Go failed NCAP crash tests.
Global NCAP concludes that vehicle structural integrity and air bags as standard are a requirement to exceed minimum UN crash test standard at 56km/h, and provide some level of protection at a speed crash test at 64km/h. Indian Government’s own formal NCAP tests are expected to begin at a lower speed of 56km/h (meets UN minimum requirements) to bring focus to vehicle safety here.
India reports at least 140,000 road deaths a year. Owing to both Global NCAP reports for India in 2014, this is the first time vital information is available so people can make informed car purchase choices. However, it will take a while for buyers to fully understand what safety reports imply considering Alto and Swift contribute majorly to Maruti Suzuki’s biggest individual segment sales.
Launched with support from FIA Foundation, Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) has helped launch independent crash test programmes in Latin America and ASEAN. In 2014, Global NCAP worked with Indian NGO, Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), to launch independent crash tests here.