Motors

Car manufacturers accused of lower safety standards in India than Europe

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is highly rated by Euro Ncap

EURO Ncap has released crash safety test results for two more new models, writes William Scholes.

The latest E-Class from Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot's 3008 crossover each earned five star ratings under the organisation's latest test regime.

The Mercedes was rated at 95 per cent for adult occupant safety, 90 per cent for child occupant safety, 77 per cent for pedestrian protection and 62 per cent for its safety assist technology.

The Peugeot scored 86 per cent, 85 per cent, 67 per cent and 58 per cent in the same respective categories.

Each received praise from Euro Ncap for the safety equipment available to buyers, but another organisation, Thatcham Research, which is funded by the insurance industry, pointed out that the most advanced safety aids cost extra.

Taking the E-Class as an example, Thatcham said its technology "provides a glimpse of the future, with an array of safety technology combining lane guidance and distance control systems to lay the foundations for an autonomous future".

"The E-Class is head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to advanced safety features," said Thatcham's Matthew Avery.

"However, we know that the take up of optional safety features is typically less than 10 per cent, so more needs to be done in terms of standard fitment to make these superb technologies more widely accessible."

Examples of advanced safety gadgetry on the E-Class includes 'Drive Pilot', which allows short periods of hands-free driving as long as driver interventions continuously prove that they are still in the loop.

If no input from the driver is detected the assisted driving functionality will shut down safely, forcing the driver to take back full control.

Euro Ncap has driven up safety in cars in Europe since it began its testing and rating regime in 1997.

Thatcham said that manufacturers whose models routinely score five stars in Europe's tests should also offer the same level of safety to customers in markets like India and Latin America.

Renault, for example, won India's car of the year title with its Kwid model, but it is sold with no airbags and scored zero stars for adult occupant protection in a Global Ncap crash test - in contrast, the company's European models are stuffed with airbags. Honda was also singled out for varying approaches to safety.

Peter Shaw from Thatcham said the "equation is simple": "Airbags save lives by making vehicles safer and it simply is not acceptable that cars sold at very similar price points in different countries bring varying levels of safety - or more worryingly, no safety at all."

David Ward, secretary-general of Global Ncap, said: "Renault and Honda make safe cars in other markets; they have the know-how to make all their Indian cars much safer. We expect them to start doing so now."

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