Tata Motors likely to offer standard six airbags in next-gen Tiago, Tigor
The homegrown automaker says it consistently strives to increase the safety quotient in its products which have already set the benchmark in terms of crashworthiness and occupant protection, in their respective segments in the market.
Homegrown automaker Tata Motors, which has registered remarkable growth in the last few years to emerge as India’s No. 3 carmaker, led by a range of products that score high in terms of value, as well as safety and crash protection, is aiming to up the safety ante in its future products.
The company, which is the first carmaker in the country to secure a five-star rating for its recent launches – updated Harrier and Safari SUVs – under the newly-introduced Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (BNCAP) crash certification programme, wants to democratise safety in its product line-up.
“Our main aim is to ensure safe mobility for our customers, and it is not a journey that we have embarked on only recently. In 1997, we set up our in-house crash test lab in Pune even before the Indica was launched. It is one of the most advanced private crash-test laboratories in India till date,” said Mohan Savarkar, Chief Product Officer, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles.
“We want to democratise safety, and therefore, our cars score the highest in terms of crash safety in their respective segments. We go beyond the regulations,” he told Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the Bharat Mobility Show in New Delhi last week.
Savarkar said that while Covid nudged people in the direction of personal safety, the thought process extended to other spheres of life as well. “Generally, people want to be safe, and with the growth in personal transportation and families increasingly traveling together in cars, there is an increased focus on safety while buying a new vehicle,” he said.
“While the growth in SUVs, which today comprise around 48% of all passenger vehicle sales in India, has been fuelled by rising income levels as well as growing aspirations, it is also to do with the rising awareness on safety,” he added.
The company says that the Indian road infrastructure is improving by leaps and bounds, and another factor contributing to the higher sales of safer cars is the rise in average city speeds, which are consistently going up - from 18kph in the past to have reached 35kph in the present day. “This is when having a safer car becomes even more important,” pointed out Savarkar.
He also believes that public consciousness about the right and wrong practices on the road is also improving significantly, and it is a journey, with people gradually understanding the benefits of opting the safer route.
Moving towards active safety systems
While a high level of crashworthiness emanating from robust structural engineering that is validated by an offset-deformation barrier crash test done at 64kph has become a norm for Tata Motors products, “We are now focusing on ensuring that a vehicle does not get into an accident in the first place. That is where active safety and ADAS come in,” Savarkar said.
He explained that the first prerequisite for such level of accident prevention is to offer ESC, and then move towards ADAS functions like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), and Lane Keep Assist (LKA), and other features that continuously monitor the vehicle surroundings. Tata Motors introduced Level-2 ADAS features in the updated Harrier and Safari models, and is likely to introduce the technology in other future models as well. “This is a continuously evolving journey, and offers significant potential to bring more safety-enhancing features in the future,” he added.
Aiming to up the passive safety net
Savarkar further said that while a higher-than-regulation structural safety is already built into Tata Motors cars, with all its products having received some crash test rating or the other by agencies like the Global NCAP, the company is closely watching the space about augmenting passive safety features like six airbags, and offering them as standard.
While the latest versions of its Nexon, Harrier, and Safari SUVs were introduced with standard six airbags, the entry-level models – Tiago hatchback and its compact-sedan version – Tigor – continue to be devoid of the feature. The two cars, launched in 2016, and 2017, respectively, are in the last leg of their current lifecycle, and are due for a complete model change soon.
Tata Motors says it consistently strives to increase the safety quotient in its products, and would take the call of introducing six airbags into these cars at their inflection points. As per Savarkar, while the government had considered bringing a regulation to mandate six airbags in all new cars, now it has chosen to make it voluntary by introducing the BNCAP regime that requires a car to be equipped with six airbags to be eligible for a five-star rating.
“BNCAP is an aspirational safety yardstick for automakers to choose to apply to. We are watching this space very closely. As there is demand for such levels of safety from customers in this segment, we will be going for that. At the respective inflection points for each of those products, you will see us moving up the safety ladder,” he signed off.
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