Many popular Indian cars, including the Nano, Alto, and i10 have failed the independent crash tests that assess chances of fatality or serious injuries, as per a global watchdog. Four of the five most popular cars have got a zero star rating for safety. The Volkswagon Polo and the Ford Figo were the only ones to maintain their structures in a 64-kmph frontal collision, while the rest crumpled at 56 kmph in a manner that would lead to death or serious injuries, even with air bags. The Volkswagon Polo’s 2014 model passed the crash test with a four-star rating, indicating sufficient safety.
All five cars tested are standard, entry-level models, likely to be chosen as a first car, rather than more expensive cars with extra features. About 80% cars sold in India are priced below Re. 5 lakh.
The results are an indictment of the Indian auto industry, which lacks adequate safety standards. Couple it with the deadly roads in India and you have a disaster happening, resulting in 5, 00, 000 deaths annually in road accidents. The growing Indian middle class has fuelled a booming auto industry while demanding little in safety. Only last year, India produced 32 lakh cars, nearly twice the 17 lakh made in 2008 . For the bulk of these cars, air bags and rear passenger seat belts were optional, and none was required to be collision-tested. The lack of safety features, combined with reckless driving and shoddy roads, has given India a road death rate which is six times that of the USA and nearly thrice China’s, says the World Health Organization’s 2013 road safety report..