The fact that the Renault Duster has scored zero stars for adult occupant protection in the Global NCAP test for the base version should not have come as a surprise. The base version comes without airbags. The crash test showed that due to the lack of airbags the driver injuries would have been unacceptably high. So it brings the question, are carmakers taking safety seriously in India? Now we must say off late with many new launches safety has been increasing in priority. Maruti gives ABS and Airbags as standard in most of its cars and its NEXA products have ABS with dual airbags as standard. Hyundai has its Creta and i20 getting airbags as standard and so have other carmakers like Honda, VW, Toyota etc.
However the issue also lies in the difference in safety standards and cars sold for different markets. For example the Global NCAP found out that the Duster as a single airbag version was tested by Latin NCAP in 2015 where it scored 4 stars but again the India spec car with one airbag scored 3 stars. The difference is in the airbag size as the Indian Duster airbag was smaller. It is important to have a correctly sized airbag provided. Thus cars for some markets may have a better bodyshell and more safety features. This is indeed disturbing and thus for this to change global safety standards need to be followed in major car manufacturing countries.
Made in India cars have many times failed crash tests and not just the customer but stricter safety standards need to be implemented. Many Indian made cars have weak bodyshells and cannot be sold in Europe or US yet it is still legal cause our government does not yet require vehicles to meet U.N. regulations for occupant protection in frontal crashes and side impacts.
Our own New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) is a start and the fact that airbags and some safety features would be mandatory for every new car to be sold soon is a much needed move. Car buyers are increasingly putting more thought towards safety when buying a car but again it is not the top priority while buying a car. Standard safety features will cure this but while carmakers are providing safety features as standard, cutting corners in things like an airbag size or bodyshell is something that needs to be changed. India is currently the fifth largest market for new car sales and it is set to be the third largest in a few years. It is high time safety gets its due.