Alto K10 crash test highlights how India car industry neglects safety
One of the world’s best selling family cars, the Suzuki Alto K10 has been crash-tested for the first time. The total lack of protection for the driver raises questions about whether the India car industry is striking the right balance between affordability and safety. Safety groups say it is time for minimum standards to be introduced.
Manufactured by Suzuki-Maruti in India, the Alto K10 is exported to South America. The region’s car safety organization, Latin NCAP bought one, and sent it to Germany for crash-testing.
In the test, the Suzuki Alto K10’s structure was unstable and performed very badly. “The high forces placed on the dummies pose an unacceptably high risk of death,” said Latin NCAP’s report.
Just about everything in the car collapsed onto the driver. The diagram produced by Latin NCAP shows the dummy painted almost completely red. The child protection score was better: three stars, but Latin NCAP points out that it’s because the front of seats has cushioned the force for the children. In a crash, the Alto K10 is an orphan-maker.
More die on India’s roads than anywhere else in the world: around 130,000 a year. People in cars should be among the safest, but they’re not. Car and utility vehicle drivers and passengers account for 16% (20,800 lives) of road deaths each year. Only motorcyclists and those on three-wheelers (32%, 41,000 lives) are more at risk. Pedestrians and cyclists account for just 9% and 5% respectively.
More die on India’s roads than anywhere else in the world: around 130,000 a year. People in cars should be among the safest, but they’re not
Experts like to blame the figures on Indian drivers for not wearing seatbelts. It certainly doesn’t help, but with cars like the Suzuki Alto K10 collapsing onto the driver, it’s clear that the cars on sale are a part of the problem too.
As in Latin America, car makers are able to sell cheap old cars with healthy profit margins. We’re told these cars are exactly what consumers in emerging markets demand. I’m not so sure the average consumer is really aware what is being sold. They’re asking for greater safety and are being told that four wheels is the answer.
In Latin America, independent crash testing is starting to help consumers to make more informed choices. India needs its own Euro NCAP-style organization as well, don’t you think?