With recent Global NCAP crash test results, a virtual war has erupted between rival automakers
Those with good safety ratings naturally want to highlight their strong points, all while making fun of rivals with low (or non-existent aka zero) safety ratings. Tata Motors has been the most vocal about the safety standards of its latest-gen cars and has not missed an opportunity to poke fun at rivals such as Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki.
Maruti Suzuki responds
One of the cars Tata Motors has targeted is WagonR, which has received 2-star safety rating in Global NCAP crash test. Tata had shared a funny poster of a wooden cart with a broken wheel with the caption ‘Wagone’.
This was an obvious reference to WagonR. The use of a medieval era cart in the poster is also a subtle hint to the below average safety rating of WagonR. The poster also urges people to choose Tiago, which has 4-star safety rating and is the safest car in the segment as per Global NCAP.
In response, Maruti Suzuki has shared a poster that highlights the popularity of WagorR. The poster utilizes captions such as “trusted by 24 lakh + families” and “Dil se Strong”.
While it gets the message through and there’s no doubting WagonR’s dominance, the poster seems to lack the creativity and eccentricity shown by the ones posted by Tata Motors social team. It is likely that Maruti is trying to play it safe and avoid aggressive manoeuvres that would only give its rival more ammo to target its cars with low safety rating.
Earlier, Tata Motors had also targeted Maruti S-Presso that has received zero ratings in Global NCAP crash tests. It has used a poster of a broken cup with coffee beans spilling out. The caption read, “we don’t break that easy”, an obvious reference to S-Presso and its safer alternative, the new Tiago. Maruti had responded with “we are India’s favourite automobile brand” along with the caption “this claim is undisputed”.
Do higher safety ratings translate into increased sales?
Although safety ratings may be important for specific customers, it is not something that the majority looks into when buying a car. This is especially true when we are talking about entry level cars.
In India, several other factors take prominence over safety such as affordability, proximity to service centre, availability of parts, quality of after sales service, maintenance cost, etc. Another thing is that awareness about car safety is lacking among a large chunk of car users in the country.
So, safety ratings may impact car sales, but only to a negligible extent. It is unlikely that people will stop buying WagonR just because it has low safety rating. Moreover, Global NCAP is a private agency and its testing standards and results and ratings may be contested.