Original Story 4th August 2015
The incident occurred in Suratkal when the occupants were on their way to Cochin. The Mahindra XUV500 in question was travelling at a speed of 90 kmph when it aquaplaned and spun out of control. High speed, coupled with narrow road, pushed the car sideways and into rolling. It only came to a halt when it hit a coconut tree, but only after it had rolled over multiple times.
Seeing the images one would think that this was a fatal accident. But, the occupants received some minor cuts and bruises while one of the passenger suffered a slipped disc due to the impact. Apart from this, there was no other major injury. The strong body structure of Mahindra XUV500 saved the day for these passengers. But what comes to mind is why the side airbags did not deploy in impact?
Though Mahindra XUV500 W8 possessed several safety features, its airbags failed to deploy. Not only air bags but also ESP, ABS and EBD failed to work and the condition of the vehicle, after impact, speaks volumes of what could have been the state of affairs of the travelers in what should have been a comparatively safe vehicle. The tyres were also new and had only run for 8,000 kms since being changed.
Complaints to Mahindra Customer Service Centre have failed to get any response while insurance surveys and other formalities are still underway. Till formalities are completed the vehicle is lying at the police station awaiting RTO inspection.
Speaking to few experts, we found out that there are many reasons for airbags to not deploy. In this particular case, if passengers were not wearing seatbelts, airbags could have not deployed. The reason being, when airbags go off, the force with which it blows-up is very high. If passengers are not wearing seatbelt, and are near the airbag when accident occurs, the deploying airbag could injure them more seriously then the accident itself. This is the reason why airbags dont deploy when passengers are not wearing seatbelts.
But, this did not work in India. Many here don’t wear seat belts, which resulted in increase in number of complaints where customers accused car makers of selling faulty airbags as they did not deploy when vehicle crashed. This resulted in OEMs making airbag deploy mandatory in an event of accident, regardless of the fact passengers were wearing seatbelts or not. It is not confirmed as to what went in the making of the airbag system of this particular XUV500, which makes it difficult to confirm that was this a case of failed airbags, or that of passenger not wearing seatbelt.
UPDATE 10th August 2015
Mahindra has officially replied to the owner of the XUV500 in question. They basically imply that ESP won’t work during aquaplaning and their airbags are not designed to deploy under a rollover crash situation. Below is their reply in full.