New Delhi: Five popular passenger vehicle models in India -- Maruti's Celerio and Eeco, Renault Kwid, Mahindra Scorpio and Hyundai Eon -- have failed crash tests by vehicle safety group Global NCAP with 'zero star' ratings.
The companies, however, contested the test results.
The UK-based group tested five models, which included Maruti Suzuki's van Eeco, sold in India, and found that the vehicles "showed low levels of adult occupant protection".
"The latest Indian crash test results from Global NCAP released today in Delhi continue to disappoint with all five models rated as zero star," Global NCAP said in a statement.
Commenting on the latest crash test results, Global NCAP Secretary General David Ward said the results show how important it is for cars to have a body shell that can remain stable in a crash.
"This is an absolutely crucial pre-requisite for occupant safety together with fitment at least of front air bags," he added.
Auto industry body SIAM, however, questioned the findings saying the Global NCAP crash tests were conducted at a speed of 64kmph while even in Europe and US, which has the most advanced safety standards frontal offset is tested at 56 kmph and India is also adopting the same standards from 2017.
"Globally safety standards are set by national governments and companies comply with those regulations. India will also be adopting crash test standards from 2017 conducted at speed of 56 kmph. Currently, vehicles sold in India comply with the regulations set by the government," Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers SIAM Director General Vishnu Mathur told PTI.
Global NCAP is not a standard setting body. It is a private NGO testing vehicles on its own benchmark. It is a commercial venture to give star ratings to companies which approach them to get rated for marketing purposes, he added.
Mathur said Global NCAP has not explained the rationale behind testing cars at 64kmph and the actual average speed in India is much less than that.
In the latest test for the non-airbag Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Global NCAP said the model scored zero stars in adult occupant protection and one star in child occupant protection.
The company's non-airbag Eeco scored zero stars in the adult occupant protection and one star in child occupant protection, it added.
Reacting to the findings, Maruti Suzuki Suzuki insisted that all its products were safe and met "the safety standards of India and in most cases, exceed them".
"The tests by Global NCAP are conducted at speeds that are higher than those prescribed by the regulatory authorities not only in India but in Europe and USA. The results of Global NCAP have to be seen in that perspective," the company said in an emailed response.
Renault's fast selling small car Kwid was tested in three versions, including one with airbags, but each was rated as zero star for adult safety, Global NCAP said, adding as a result of the crash testing, the company has sought to improve the safety performance of the Kwid.
"It is very surprising that a manufacturer like Renault introduced the Kwid initially lacking this essential feature. Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard," Ward said.
Car makers must ensure that their new models pass the UN's minimum crash test regulations, and support the use of airbag, he added.
When contacted, Renault India Operations Country CEO & Managing Director Sumit Sawhney said: "We appreciate Global NCAP recognising Renault's efforts and commitment to safety enhancement. Safety is of paramount importance for Renault and all our products meet and exceed the requisite safety standards set by Indian regulatory authorities."
According to Global NCAP, Mahindra Scorpio scored zero stars in the adult occupant protection and two stars in child occupant protection.
"The collapse of the structure combined with the lack of airbags explains the score for the adult occupants protection which means that there is high probability of life threatening injuries for at least one of the adult passengers," it said.
Mahindra & Mahindra on its part said that its entire automotive products are developed and manufactured to meet or exceed the safety standards set in India.
"In fact, many models exceed the expected regulations of 2019. The star rating as released by Global NCAP (GNCAP) in the latest crash test was conducted on non-airbags variant of the Scorpio. Typically, in any star rating process, non-airbag variants do not perform well on safety standards," it said.
Commenting on the Hyundai Eon, the Global NCAP said the model is offered in the standard version without airbags and it scored zero stars in the adult occupant protection and two stars in child occupant protection.
"The unstable structure in the passenger compartment and the lack of airbags explained the poor result in adult occupant protection," it added.
When contacted, Hyundai Motor India said in a statement: "Hyundai Motor India affirms that Hyundai vehicles are designed and build to meet all the prescribed safety standards set by Indian regulatory authorities."
Ward said the results highlight the importance of the Indian government's decision to mandate the front and side impact crash tests from October 2017.
"Legislative action is needed to ensure that the minimum levels of occupant protection recommended by the UN are guaranteed for Indian consumers. But manufacturers don't have to wait for legislation and we urge them to act to eliminate all zero star cars from production as soon as possible," he added.