Bajaj Auto, manufacturer of India's first quadricycle, the Qute, has reacted strongly to the views expressed by Global NCAP regarding the Qute's safety standard.
The Qute, which was part of a batch of 4 quadricycle models (Bajaj Qute, Aixam Crossover GTR, Microcar M.GO Family and Chatenet CH30) that were crash-tested by Euro NCAP recently, faced criticism for its safety level as found by the safety watchdog in the tests. The test results were announced on April 6.
In a similar test conducted in 2014, the Ligier IXO JS Line 4 and Club Car Villager 2+2 LSV quadricycles received zero star rating. The popular Renault Twizzy scored two stars in the same test.
In his comments to Autocar Professional, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, says that Bajaj Auto has a track record for integrity and performance and that the company "would equally respectfully suggest that in the future Global NCAP reflect a little longer and exhibit greater maturity in drawing conclusions before venturing to cast unwarranted aspersion" on an organisation like Bajaj Auto.
As of April 8 late night, Bajaj Auto was yet to receive Global NCAP’s message to the company and the company’s comments are based on media reports.
Bajaj Auto says that it has inferred from the crash test results that the Qute's safety rating is at par with several European quadricycles and superior to many other European quadricycles. The Qute, along with the Aixam Crossover GTR and the Microcar M.GO Family got a 1-star rating in the tests.
David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP, had written to Bajaj in a letter dated April 8 that "although the one star awarded to the Qute was a slightly better result than some of the other vehicles tested, Euro NCAP stressed that your product does not perform well. They revealed a likelihood of severe or fatal head and chest injuries."
The home-grown OEM also stated in its message that it did not mean to suggest that the results of the quadricycle test and the 2014 test where some Indian compact cars failed to get a star rating are directly comparable. In a press statement on April 7, Bajaj Auto had stated that the Qute's one-star rating is superior to the zero-star rating of popular cars including the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10, Maruti Alto and Tata Nano. This is a "misleading and wrong" comparision, according to Global NCAP.
Even as the global body made some strong statements on the Qute and Bajaj Auto, it also stated the OEM "has the potential to be a world-class leader in promoting quadricycles" if the company implements some recommendations by Euro NCAP to enhance the Qute's safety quotient.
Whether Bajaj Auto accepts and implements the recommendations, time will tell. But the company is going ahead with its plans of growing the global market for the Qute. It plans to export 10,000 units of the quadricycle in FY2017, compared to 334 units in FY 2016. The Qute is primarily aimed at two- and three-wheeler consumers who desire, "higher safety, lower emissions, and unparalleled fuel economy of the Qute" but cannot afford a car.