It's taken for granted that cars currently for sale in Western countries pass crash tests, and often merit four- or five-star safety ratings in NCAP or NHTSA tests. This is why these scores attained by Indian market cars are so galling: seven vehicles currently sold in India got zero stars in any category – a horrifying clean sweep.

It is understandable that cars sold in a developing market are cheap and equipment levels are low, but acceptable crash safety is something that should be considered essential in all markets. The cars tested in the Global New Car Assessment Programme were Hyundai's Eon, Maruti Suzuki's Eeco and Celerio models, Mahindra's Scorpio SUV and several Renault Kwid models. All of the cars were manufactured in India for the Indian market, and the Mahindra Scorpio was the sole larger car. It was first introduced in 2002, with updates made in 2006 and 2014. Mahindra has long planned to export its vehicles to the United States, with the likeliest version a pickup variant of the Scorpio.

Renault's Kwid crossover was tested in three versions. Initially, the Kwid was tested with and without airbags, and on both accounts it scored zero stars in adult occupant protection and two stars in child occupant protection. Renault strengthened the bodyshell and the crash tests showed the updated Kwid's structure did not collapse; still, it was rated unstable and that it couldn't withstand further stress. On closer inspection, the structural reinforcements were found to be done only on the driver's side of the passenger cell. Renault has confirmed more safety updates are on their way.

"We welcome Renault's efforts to correct this and we look forward to testing another improved version with airbags. Renault has a strong record of achievement in safety in Europe and it should offer the same commitment to its customers in India", says Global NCAP's David Ward. "Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard. Car makers must ensure that their new models pass the United Nations' minimum crash test regulations, and support use of an airbag." The airbag-equipped Kwid was the only model of the seven cars tested that was fitted with one.

This is how the Mahindra Scorpio performed.

Renault Kwid without airbags.


Renault Kwid fitted with an airbag.


Hyundai's Eon crumpling like paper.


And the Celerio manufactured by Suzuki's Indian arm, Maruti.


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