Some of the best-selling models of India’s largest carmaker have scored the least in the latest crash test results.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.’s Swift hatchback scored one star each for adult and child occupant protection in the latest crash tests conducted by Global New Car Assessment Programme, or Global NCAP.
The car was tested in its basic safety specification with two frontal airbags and antilock braking system. The same standards were maintained for the S-Presso as well as the Ignis models, which scored one star for adult occupant safety and zero stars for child safety.
None of the three models provide electronic stability control and side curtain airbags as standard or as optional equipment. All three models demonstrated unstable structures during frontal crash testing.
“It is of great concern that the manufacturer with the largest market share in India, Maruti Suzuki, still offers such poorly performing models, which don’t even make some key safety systems available to consumers in India as optional equipment,” Alejandro Furas, secretary general of Global NCAP, said in a statement on the crash-test authority’s website.
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. was the outlier here, as its latest SUV—the Scorpio N—scored five stars for adult occupant protection and three stars for child occupant protection.
The sports utility vehicle was tested with its basic safety specification—two frontal airbags and ABS. ESC and side curtain airbags are not standard but are available in the majority of units produced. The lack of three point seatbelts affected the child occupant protection result, limiting it to only three stars.
The disappointing crash-test performance by some of Maruti Suzuki’s best-selling cars come against the backdrop of its criticism of the government’s proposed six-airbag rule.
The regulation would largely impact the cost-sensitive entry-level car segment, which has been facing headwinds and witnessing dwindling sales over the last three years, making it even more difficult for two-wheeler users to upgrade to small cars, the carmaker has said.
“If the car market does not grow like what has been happening in the last three years it will have an adverse effect on job creation and economic growth,” RC Bhargava, chairman at Maruti Suzuki India, in May this year.
When asked by how much the price of cars could go up due to the addition of airbags, Bhargava said: “I am not sure but it could be in the range of Rs 20,000-25,000, which for a small car buyer is a lot of money.”
“I think we will be among the first countries to do that…so we in the industry think that it is not the right time to bring six airbag regulations. We would like the government to reconsider this matter,” Bhargava said.
On Sept. 29, India the implementation of the six-airbag rule by one year.