Recently, we carried a story about the Mahindra XUV500 W8 being involved in a roll over accident following aquaplaning on the highway. We did list out a bunch of reasons when the airbag will and will not deploy. Now, we have it from the horse’s mouth about what could have gone wrong in the crash and about why the airbags did not deploy. Here’s the full text of Mahindra’s reply to the XUV500 owner, whose vehicle was involved in the rollover that thankfully left all five passengers unscathed.
I have received your email dated 31st July 2015 addressed to our customer care department and respond as below.
At the outset, we are pained to learn about the accident of your XUV500 (bearing registration No. KL39D 9393) near Suratkal in Karnataka. It is an unfortunate incident, and we at Mahindra are relieved to hear that all of the occupants of the car are safe.
We will investigate this incident further in more detail. However our preliminary comments and observations about the incident, after studying and analysing the available information and photographs, are as follows:
1. Based on information we have gathered till date, and as you have also correctly concluded in your email, the cause of the accident appears to be “aquaplaning” which has resulted in toppling of the vehicle. The Electronic Stability Control (ESP) as a function, uses selective braking of wheels to stabilize the vehicle during “under steering” and “over steering” situations. Typically, during an “aquaplaning” situation, contact between wheel and ground, would be lost temporarily, resulting in loss of traction preventing the vehicle from responding to control inputs. Hence in aquaplaning situations, ESP will not be able to play any meaningful role. From the images, it appears that both of the rear tyres are completely worn out. It is well established that vehicle dynamics are significantly dependent on the condition of the tyres. Worn tires, especially bald ones, can easily lose traction on wet roads, where the grooves aren’t deep enough to channel water out from beneath the tread resulting in “aquaplaning” situations. We also note from the images that the original tyres have been replaced, though we are not at this time able to ascertain the specifications of the replacement tyres used or as to how this aspect could have contributed to the “aquaplaning”. As a technical person, I would urge that in the interest of safety, please always use tyres meeting specifications recommended by the manufacturer and which are in good condition, especially when driving in bad weather conditions.
2. The XUV500 is equipped with front and side airbags. Front airbags would deploy only during frontal impact condition at specified speeds. In this case, there is no damage seen in the front of the car. As there was no frontal impact the front airbags had not deployed. Side Airbags too are designed to deploy in case of acceleration due to impact. Since the toppling was caused due to “aquaplaning” situation and not due to side impact collision, the side airbags also would not have deployed in this case.
3. In our experience, in accidents of such kind, it is the safety cage integrity and seat belt usage that play the most significant role in reducing injuries and risk to life and that aspect of XUV500 design seems to have significantly contributed to avoiding any serious injury in this unfortunate accident.
We wish to assure you that we at Mahindra, always consider safety as our top most priority. Our customer Care team will be in touch with you to further investigate this accident.
Principal Chief Engineer
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