Come October 2017, every car sold in India may be equipped with twin airbags as standard fare. Now, we know that airbags save lives, and there’s no disputing this. An entire industry has been built around safety and Transparency Market Research estimates that the new safety norms coming into force in India will give airbag makers revenues of nearly 2 billion dollars.
However, for airbags to actually save your life, the body structure of the car needs to be stable in the first place. According to Global NCAP, if the body structure of the car itself is unsafe, having airbags may not matter much. So, even if you buy a airbag equipped variants of these cars, you may not be any safer as long as car makers continue selling cars with unstable body structures.
Today, we’ll list out 7 cars that have been crash tested by Global NCAP and Latin NCAP, and found to have unstable body structures.
The world’s cheapest car was crash tested by Global NCAP, who found the car’s body structure to be unstable. The Nano does not have ABS nor airbags. Three point seat belts are standard.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800
The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 is relatively a new car. Launched in 2012, the only concessions towards safety include 3 point seat belts and a driver airbag. A lot of Alto 800s are exported to India, and yet this car continues to be sold with a unstable body structure. The Alto 800 is one of the largest selling car in India.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10
The Alto K10, after its recent refresh is the newest budget car from the Maruti Suzuki stable. Like its sibling, the Alto K10 is available with a driver airbag and a three point seat belt. However, even this car is rated to have an unstable body structure, somewhat making the airbag useless.
The Datsun Go was recently engineered for emerging markets around the world, and Nissan doesn’t seem to have taken safety too seriously. The Go came under heavy criticism by Global NCAP chairman Max Mosley, who urged Renault-Nissan CEO to urgently withdraw this car due to its unstable body structure. Nissan responded by adding a driver airbag, which according to the Global NCAP, won’t help matters. 3 point seat belts are standard on the Go.
The Hyundai i10 features among the top exported cars from India, and is also one of the popular budget hatchbacks sold here. Safety isn’t the strong suit of this car though. The i10, which does not offer ABS or Airbags after its re-positioning, is another car rated to have an unstable body structure. 3 point seat belts are standard though.
Hyundai Grand i10
The Grand i10 is another world car produced by Hyundai. Just 2 years old in India, this car has also come a cropper in a Latin NCAP test, which rated the Grand i10’s body structure as unstable. In Europe though, the Grand i10 fares better, which means that Hyundai builds cars with questionable safety levels only for emerging markets such as India and Latin America. The Grand i10 is sold with ABS, 3 point seat belts and twin airbags.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
Like the Grand i10, the Maruti Suzuki Swift sold in India has an unstable body structure. The Swift is India’s best selling B+ segment hatchback, and is offered with ABS, twin airbags and 3 point seat belts. However, even airbags may not be of much use due to the inherently unstable structure of the car’s body.
For the record, the top end variant of the Swift costs over 7 lakh rupees in most parts of India. This goes on to show that even paying premium rupee may not guarantee you safety. The need of the hour is for the government to intervene and ensure that car makers build safe cars for Indian buyers. Tighter governmental regulations are necessary, for allowing the auto industry to self regulate may only serve to perpetuate self interests of the car makers.