Ever wondered what crash tests are? What does NCAP mean? NCAP stands for New Car Assessment Program and is done by various entities in the world. We have Euro NCAP, ASEAN NCAP, Global NCAP, Australian NCAP, Japan NCAP, Latin NCAP, Korean NCAP, China NCAP, IIHS for USA and more.
All these agencies and upcoming Bharat NCAP simulate real-time crash conditions in a controlled environment where high-tech dummies with a plethora of sensors are used to assess various parameters. The crashworthiness of a car and protection of occupants are measured. After analyzing all the raw data, they are homologated into star ratings with 5 being the highest and 0 being the lowest.
Maruti Suzuki Response To Bharat NCAP
Maruti Suzuki has been putting up strong opposition to making crash tests mandatory for every new vehicle under Bharat NCAP. After Nitin Gadkari, Union minister of road transport and highways, approved Bharat NCAP, Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava expressed his concerns regarding this new development.
According to him, India is a completely different market than Europe where crash test ratings are a benchmark. He also added that this new benchmarking system in India will only benefit "rich people" and will not provide better transport for two-wheeler buyers. These developments from Maruti Suzuki came at the time when Indian Government is trying to implement a standard testing protocol across all manufacturers and its portfolio.
With mandating 6 airbags, Maruti's concerns were justified. Because it'll make the product more expensive to the end buyer. Because SRS airbags are Secondary Restraint Systems and primary restraint systems like seatbelts save more lives than airbags.
Is Bharat NCAP Necessary?
This is a commendable move by Indian Government in trying to encourage car manufacturers in making cars that are safer for Indians. This will result in overall upliftment of automotive industry in terms of safety and quality. Add to it the recently mandated 6 airbags in every car, it will provide a lot of value to Indian car buyers.
Opposition from India's largest car manufacturer towards this step is quite confusing. The government has not mandated every single car to pass the crash tests with a certain baseline crash rating. A product can miserably fail in the crash test with 0-Star rating and still sell in good numbers. Indian Government just wants Indian car buyers to know what they're getting into. Giving people crucial information like crash ratings regarding their big investments like a car, is necessary.
Coming to providing budget cars for motorcycle buyers, Maruti Suzuki can still do it even after crash testing every model is mandated through Bharat NCAP. Indian car buyers aren't dumb. They know that a pathetic car (irrespective of manufacturer) with 0-Star crash rating is still safer than a motorcycle. Low crash ratings on budget cars is not an issue at all because it is expected. But low crash ratings on cars that cost over Rs. 10 lakhs, might not be acceptable to buyers.
With this move, Indian exports to more mature markets like Europe and North America will see a rise. Because, currently, most Indian cars have tossed safety in the trunk rather than in the back seat. With better quality cars, India can soon be a global export hub with a relatively booming economy.