For a country which sees 16 people killed and another 53 injured every hour on its roads, vehicular safety is of utmost importance. Which is why Autocar Professional brings out its annual Automotive Safety Special, revealing the latest advances domestic industry across the value chain is taking.
Even as the government has mandated a series of norms designed to make made-in-India cars and two-wheelers safer, India Auto Inc has already been working on developing safer products. Case in point is the fast-improving performance of some carmakers in the Global NCAP crash tests. Our cover story reveals just what four leading carmakers -- Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki India and Toyota Kirloskar Motor -- are doing to make their products safer.
As Rajendra Petkar, CTO, Tata Motors, says: "Our primary focus continues to revolve around building robust, safe and world-class vehicles that possess best-in-class features." As is known, the fully indigenous Tata Nexon became the first Indian passenger vehicle to get the highest grade five-star Global NCAP rating. And, with the Indian car buyer becoming increasingly safety conscious, that effort is paying off on the sales front.
UV maker Mahindra & Mahindra is also upping the ante on the safety front. R Velusamy, vice-president, product development, says: "By heavy usage of high-strength steel and best-in-class restraint systems, we achieved a four-star Global NCAP rating for the Mahindra Marazzo."
The same fervour is at market leader Maruti Suzuki. According to CV Raman, senior executive director, "Every Maruti Suzuki car is subjected to over 50 crash tests during its product development cycle."
Toyota, the company for whom safety has and will be a religion, has been at the forefront of this initiative. Like N Raja, deputy MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, points out, "Toyota is the first OEM in India to have standardised airbags across all grades, and also ABS and EBD since 2016."
Another automotive safety driver is Volvo Cars, which with its Equal Vehicles for All initiative, is sharing more than 40 years of safety research to make cars safer for everyone, including women.
OEM quest for enhanced vehicle safety can only be achieved if the supplier community works in tandem and that's just what Tier 1 supplier and technology provider Continental is doing. With mandatory ABS kicking in for two-wheelers above 125cc in India, the German major has expanded capacity substantially and is ready to meet the surge of demand coming its way. We visit Continental Automotive Brake Systems' ABS assembly plant in Manesar for a first-hand report and also speak to the company's business head (Brake Systems) Thomas Laudes and Krishan Kohli, business head (Vehicle Dynamics).
That's not all. Continental is also driving a new dynamic in manufacturing airbags for cars at its Bangalore plant. Sukhdeep Sandhu, business unit head - Passive Safety & Sensorics, Continental India, says: "Our modular SPEED (Safety Platform for Efficient & Economical Design) airbag control unit allows even entry-level cars to be fitted with a high-performance airbag system."
Bonding is also one way of making vehicle construction safer. High-performance adhesive and sealant maker Henkel has recently tied up with RLE, the dvelopment, technology and consultation service provider, to leverage each other's strengths in India and overseas.
Two-wheelers are among the largest contributors to road accidents and fatalities. It is a known fact that the helmet is the most important piece of motorcycle/scooter safety equipment. It is estimated that strapping on a helmet reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 37 percent. We report on Sandhar Amkin, a JV between the Sandhar Technologies and the Amkin Group, which has introduced its Mavox range of quality and affordable helmets.
Motoring safety consciousness is rising among people but not fast enough. Bloomberg Philanthropies says that in Mumbai, 92 percent of road deaths involve pedestrians and two-wheelers. We reveal the findings of the latest report from the US-based charitable foundation.
To further boost the safety quotient of the April 15 issue, we have an exclusive column from David Ward, president and CEO, of safety watchdog, Global NCAP. Ward, writing on 'Building a market for safer vehicles in India', says: "We hope that more manufacturers will follow Tata Motors' excellent example and aim for five stars. We would especially like to see a permanent Bharat New Car Assessment Programme take over our 'Safer Cars for India' project and include a much wider number of models being tested."
Along with crash tests and mandatory legislations comes a need for inculcating a culture of safety. Ramashankar Pandey, managing director, Hella Lighting India, writes on a subject close to his heart.
The past fortnight saw a lot of automotive action and we've captured it all in this issue. MG India, which is betting big on its high-in-connectivity Hector SUV, is set to commence production at its Halol plant by this month-end.
Citroen and parent PSA Group which revealed their high-on-localisation growth strategy for India is also plotting a disruptive sales and aftermarket game-plan. Find out what Linda Jackson, CEO, Citroen, who believes India can be one of its top 3 global markets, has to say.
Interestingly, with PSA making its re-entry into India, the domestic automotive component industry has a massive opportunity to not only cater to the French carmaker in India but also to its plants globally.
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Also Read: AutocarPro to host global automotive safety webinar on May 6