Car safety takes backseat as auto firms focus on sales.
Almost all carmakers, from Maruti Suzuki to Hyundai and Honda, offer variants in India without life-saving features such as airbags and ABS
(anti-lock braking system) although these features are included in vehicles exported to even smaller markets.
Most of the companies operating in India are global players and pack their export models with top-notch safety features — even offering six air bags on a compact car — whereas the models meant for India lack many of these.
In the West, where regulations are stringent against any manufacturing defect, results in companies recalling lakhs of cars and often being slapped with hefty million-dollar fines.
In India, the regulators have not taken on companies and agencies such as the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), which clears vehicles before they are launched, ignore basic features. For instance, several vehicles in India come with the indicator on the left hand side because the carmaker has refused to make the change in line with local driving conditions. There are vehicles where even the lever to open the bonnet is on the left hand side. Yet, the vehicles get the go ahead.
NCAP found that in the case of crash of Maruti Alto, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10, the vehicle structures were inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that even fitting with airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury, NCAP said.