European cars are favoured in India for their solid build qualities, mature suspension set ups and the general feeling of quality and top notch engineering that they come laden with. Evolved buyers in developed parts of Europe, which is at the cutting edge of car technology, demand plenty of features, creature comforts and refinements. Many of these features are engineered to suit buyers in developed car markets, but eventually trickle down to developing countries such as India. However, not all these features are necessary, or for that matter good for Indian road conditions. And there can be many reasons for this. Today, we check 5 car features that are good for Europe, but not for India.
DRLs or Daytime Running Lights were first introduced in Nordic countries, as a means of improving road safety by making cars more visible. This makes sense in Scandinavian countries, which are dark for many months of the years. But India has a lot of sunshine and the DRL is more of a distraction than a safety feature. While car makers keep it classy by moderating the brightness of the DRLs, the after market parts market has gone crazy with the brightness. The result is over illumination, both during the day and at night. From being a feature designed to improve road safety, the DRL has become a bling-bling item that irritates the eye.
This is another feature that’s weather specific, and meant mainly for colder climes when people in a car are happy to soak up as much sun as possible. In India, we usually have kids hanging out of sunroofs. Adding a sunroof to a car needs structural changes, which the after market part industry is usually ill equipped to handle. Sun roofs that are installed by manufacturers make the car expensive by at least 50,000 rupees. All in all, the sun roof is a more of a vanity feature whose utility in India is severely curtailed.
Air suspension was introduced in India, on Mercedes Benz’s luxury cars. There have been more than a few failures of the AIRMATIC (Mercedes’ terms for air suspension) system on Mercedes Benz cars and SUVs. The general consensus is that Indian roads are too rough to handle these complicated but fragile suspension set ups. However, air suspension set ups are said to work reliably well on smooth roads that the developed west has access too.
Run flat tyres
Many a BMW owner in India fears taking her/his car out for a long cross country drive. And it’s shame, for BMWs are engineered to be driven for driving pleasure. The culprit? Run flat tyres. Not only these tyres, with their stiff sidewalls, result in a harsh ride when the road gets broken, they also can’t be repaired in case of a puncture. Yet, BMW persists with run flat tyre technology on its cars sold in India. To get around this issue, BMW owners replace the run flats with tubeless tyres, often at considerable expense. Most don’t venture out of the city.
Station wagon body style
We couldn’t resist this one. This body style is big in Europe, but in India, every car that has ever taken the station wagon route has failed. From the Hindustan Ambassadors and Premier Padminis to the recent Datsun Go+, station wagons simply don’t sell in India. It’s strange given the fact that Indians like to travel in groups, and also like to load up their cars with luggage. In such conditions, station wagons make for very practical options. Yet, nobody seems to buy them.
Sunroof image courtesy Team-BHP