'NCAP (rating) globally is a marketing tool. It is a tool to identify and say which is the better car, but that does not mean that a zero star car is not safe.'

C V Raman, Executive Director -- engineering, Maruti Suzuki tells Autocar Professional's Sumantra B Barooah how he views the NCAP test results of the Swift, which failed to get a star rating and what Maruti Suzuki is doing on the area of safety.

By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 04 Nov 2014 Views icon5025 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'NCAP (rating) globally is a marketing tool. It is a tool to identify and say which is the better car, but that does not mean that a zero star car is not safe.'

C V Raman, Executive Director -- engineering, Maruti Suzuki tells Autocar Professional's Sumantra B Barooah how he views the NCAP test results of the Swift, which failed to get a star rating and what Maruti Suzuki is doing on the area of safety.

How do you take the G-NCAP results for the Swift?
How I take it is that it is a method used by G-NCAP to educate the Indian customer about safety. Maruti Suzuki as a manufacturer has always given safety a very high priority. We make sure that all our products meet all the regulations whether in India or abroad, wherever we sell them. And we also offer in all our products, variants where such equipment is available and a choice is given to the people to buy that. And we are working with the government to make them understand about the NCAP and so now the BNVSAP, the Indian version on the NCAP, that is being worked on. So that’s something which will happen and there is a road map which has been built for offset and for BNVSAP, so all that also work is also going on. And we will make sure that all our products are going to meet future generations. And also we have set up the Rohtak test track and proving ground for ABS and other testings. Also we have a crash lab which we have put up. So by doing all of this, we are showing out intent and we are making sure that we will be there to be able to do the development that is required for all these technologies in a timely manner.
Today there's 5 percent or 10 percent of penetration is there for airbags. We make almost 1 million cars. We have to have the entire pipeline, we have to have manufacturers who can supply, get the supply chain in place and high tensile steel manufacturers, tooling. It’s a whole effort which is required.

Among the Swift variants, what is the percentage of sales from the variant with the airbag?
It is about 5 percent.

Does that reflect that the other factors like awareness, legislation, infrastructure are not in place yet? Do you think that sales of variants with safety features will continue to hover in this 5-10 range until and unless there is a regulation in place?
Yes, people are moving to higher variants and wanting to make that change. I think that its natural, it is something which is going to happen over a period of time.
The regulation will come now. The offset norm will come in 2017. So anyway all new models have to meet the offset norm and by 2020, all existing models also have to meet offset norms. So anyway that change has to happen. So now NCAP is going to be one level above the regulation and NCAP globally is a marketing tool. It is a tool to identify and say which is the better car, but that does not mean that this is safer than what is already being produced. If a vehicle is a two star rating in Europe, and there is a zero star rating, it is the choice of the customer that he can buy a zero star or a two star. Okay, in certain parameters it is showing out to be better but it doesn’t mean the zero star car is not safe. That is something that also needs to be understood.

But the perception is that one may do good by not considering a zero star NCAP rating at all.
No, why? It is a rating. Like fuel efficiency. I have 16 kmpl and I have 20 kmpl. I have a range of vehicles. A 16 kmpl is say (like) 0 star, a 20 kmpl is 5 star. So there is a band in between. It is a choice that is available to the customer. Please understand. That is the difference. Safety is also like that. If an offset norm is there, does it mean that the vehicle is unsafe? I don’t think so. Absolutely not. It is not at all the right measure.

Now with the Ministry of Road transport coming up with the equivalent of the NCAP in India in its draft Motor Vehicle Act, how actively is the government engaging OEMs, especially Maruti, since it is the market leader?
We are fully with working through SIAM with the government about the offset norms. Everything has been agreed that this is the timing which is going to happen. On the BNVSAP also we are giving our perspective on what should be there. We are hearing from the government, we are hearing from ARAI what they feel about it. And so one can say that why is industry part of this. But industry also has to work along with the government and regulator to ensure that we are able to be in place in time. If you mandate something which is not possible, to do in time also doesn’t make sense.

Now we come to the Alto. It is a very competitive package at this price. How long was in under development?
This took about 33 months of development. Total investment was about 200 crores. Lot of work was done locally, lot of support from Suzuki. Lot of approvals, testing done at Suzuki. So it has been a very good experience for all of us to develop this vehicle.

What is the import content in this car?
In this, this is more than 99 percent (manual) local. There is hardly anything which is imported. The electronics and some more in the AMT version.

 

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