In a recent statement to a television channel, the General Manger of Marketing for Maruti Suzuki, Mayank Pareek, said that price is a key factor to be successful in the Indian car market. To maintain a low price, manufacturers usually tend to overlook the safety aspects of the car, because safety packages are viewed as additional costs by most consumers.
Small cars constitute close to 85 % of the Indian auto market and most of them do not provide any quality safety features as standard. Optional packages are available, but they do not provide too many choices. The Indian Vehicle Act states that only seat belts, rearview mirror, headrests, and bumpers are mandatory safety features. Even the basic crash test is not mandatory.
Crash test determines the safety of passengers during high speed accidents. Features like air bags, braking system, strength of the car body, front and rear crumple zones, and door beams are put to test. This is done in a controlled environment and every action is closely scrutinized and ratings are awarded based on study. In the US and Europe, a car can start its mass production and sales only after it meets all passenger safety standards.
In India, cars that come with Rs 15 Lakh price tags or above are equipped with all the modern safety features like anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution, airbags for driver and all passengers, and much more. Most vehicles that fall in this segment are the SUV’s and high-end cars like the Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, and other imported cars.
Car manufacturers agree that inclusion of safety features will drastically increase the overall MSRP of a car. The police department have only stressed on distractions like drunken driving and talking over the mobile phone as factors for fatality in car accidents. The Indian government is yet to wake up to the developments in the automobile field and accordingly bring in new regulations and amendments to the Vehicle Act. Money should not be a constraint to ensure passenger safety in cars.