At the end of last year, PlasticsToday forecast that safety issues would come under increasing focus in 2014. Well it hasn't taken much time to prove that prophecy correct, although not quite in the manner we expected.
Recent tests by independent car safety body, Global NCAP found that a number of small cars on sale in India pose a very serious risk to their occupants in the event of a crash. Entry-level models of the Ford Figo previous-generation Hyundai i10, and Volkswagen Polo, all lacking airbags, scored zero stars for adult protection. These findings are quite incredulous given that the current European equivalents of these vehicles score impressively: the Ford Fiesta and Polo achieved a five-star rating in their Euro NCAP tests, while the old version of the Hyundai i10 managed a respectable four.
Global NACP also tested the top-selling Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800 and the local Tata Nano, and found them severely lacking in safety. In the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, the Tata Nano and the Hyundai i10, the vehicle structures proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury. The Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo had structures that remained stable - and, therefore, with airbags fitted, protection for the driver and front passenger would be much improved.