Car makers in India are often blamed for not offering safety features on entry level cars. But when they do, do buyers opt for them? Well, Maruti Suzuki has just released data that paints a sorry picture of safety demand/awareness among Indian buyers.
The data released by Maruti says that buyers don’t give a damn about safety features, even if the said feature is very affordably priced. For instance, Maruti offers a driver’s side airbag across Alto 800 variants. Maruti says that only 5 % of Alto 800 buyers opt for the optional airbag, which is priced at just 6,000 rupees.
Now, the Alto 800 is the least priced car in Maruti’s Indian range, and also the best selling car in the country. It also is a car that’s been tested and found to have a unstable body by the Global NCAP. Notably, the Alto contributes to nearly 10 % of all cars sold in India, which is a big number indeed (nearly 2.5 lakh units every year).
To think of so many Altos on Indian roads without a basic safety feature such as an airbag is unnerving. Even in case of the WagonR, another top seller, only 15 % of buyers opt for the airbag equipped variant. For its part, Maruti offers airbags either as standard or as an option on almost all its cars sold in India, barring the Gypsy and Omni.
However, only 37 % of buyers opt for cars that have ABS and Airbags. In fact, most of this 37 % is made up of the Baleno and Vitara Brezza – two Maruti cars that come with safety features as standard. Car buyers in India don’t seem to care for safety features in India. Perhaps this is the reason why car makers build less-safe (when compared to the developed world) cars for the Indian market.
The ball’s now in the government’s court, for it’s only the government that can make safety compulsory across all cars sold here. In fact, such a move is afoot. In 2017, new safety norms (called Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program or BNVSAP) will come into force.
Let’s hope that these norms make rigorous crash testing and safety features standard for all cars sold here. Until then, car buyers can do their bit to motivate manufacturers to make safer cars by opting for only those cars that have standard safety features such as Airbags and ABS.