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Old 24th June 2015, 12:25   #16
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Default re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

Also - I don't want alloy wheels, climate control and a fancy stereo deck but I do want ABS and Airbags doesnt seem to be a combo that enters any one manufacturer's brain. Except for Volkswagen where this is standard across all variants (each of which is priced as much as the next higher segment model from their competitors) and Ford (whose 2014-15 models are advertised as being made from boron steel etc) - no other manufacturer seems to see a thing wrong in selling tin cans on 4 skinny wheels.
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Old 24th June 2015, 12:34   #17
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Default re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

I have said my piece on what I think of how car manufactures deal with safety for countries such as India in a different thread, so I'll leave it at that.

But maybe some historical context from Europe:

I would say most (western) countries have gone though a similar experience when it comes to car safety.

When I learned to drive (38 years ago I passd my test a few weeks after my 18th birthday) wearing seatbelts had only just become mandatory. I dont have statistics, but it probably took another 10 years even after it had become mandatory before most people actually started using it as per default.

When it comes to airbags and the adaption, I think the experience was very similar. Originally only available in high end cars, later becoming optionals on small/medium segment and ultemately in numerous cars enforced via regulation.

But again, it takes many years for any society to change and adapt its behaviour. Legislation can help push things, but seatbelt legislation still leaves it to individual to use the belt or not. Making it compulsaroy for a car manufacturer to fit airbags solves that part at least. It also evens the playing field as everybody needs to do, so there is no loss or gain from a competitive edge so to speak, everybody more or less gets the same cost increase. And you just need to manage that.

But I also think this sort of legislation is always a reflection of sentiments in a country/nation. Several esteemed members have already pointed out that many Indians, even when presented with the optional choice they would not go for the safe option. I dont think its different from what was happening 15-30 years ago in western countries.

Acceptance and recognition of these safety issues is something that needs to pushed into the public domain to create awareness, acceptance etc. I see very little evidence to that effect.

As an analogy; In my home country the Netherlands the Dutch government introduced strict drink/driving laws, heavy penalties, multipe offenders loose their DL etc more than thirty years ago. But it took at least another 10-15 years of constant public awareness campaing to change peoples behaviour and attitude towards drinking and driving.

When I started my career nobody would even think twice about drinking and driving. About ten years later the drink/driving laws were introduced. But for instance the big Friday afternoon office parties continued just the same. It took 10-15 years of changing peoples attitude do drink/driving.

Nowadays, offering alcoholic beverages at say an office party is simple not done, not because it is illegal, but it is simply not appropiate behaviour. Even today we still have drink/driving campaign going on as we speak.

So public awareness, acceptance and what society at large feels are the norms is a very important and integral part of enhancing the safety of the car industry. That goes beyond legislation and car manufacturers policies, although they (legislators/manufacturers) must be held accountable for their part in this as well of course.

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Old 24th June 2015, 13:43   #18
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Default re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

While safety features are best driven through legislation and awareness campaigns, I think for the creature comforts and convenience features manufacturers should move to an ala carte template. Here the option of what features the consumer wants in the car should be left for them to choose. This should run on the lines of "Build your car" like some manufacturers in US offer. For example someone might not want a sunroof or navigation system but wants leather seats or key-less entry. The liberty to choose what the consumer wants should rest with the individual customer and not be dictated by what sells in the mass market.

The advantage to the manufacturer is that they can better manage their inventory and not have the risk of under selling variants stock-pile in the dealers' yards.
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Old 24th June 2015, 14:52   #19
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

That will absolutely not scale for mass production I am afraid.

In India, cars aren't generally available off the shelf - the huge demand and (artificially?) restricted supply means that there is a waiting period of anywhere from a few days to even some months for various popular models.

In such cases cookie cutter configs - with whatever customizations possible such as accessories, alloys being done by the dealer and not by the manufacturer (so keyless entry, sunroof etc on a per order basis is out) aren't going to work in this market.

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While safety features are best driven through legislation and awareness campaigns, I think for the creature comforts and convenience features manufacturers should move to an ala carte template. Here the option of what features the consumer wants in the car should be left for them to choose. This should run on the lines of "Build your car" like some manufacturers in US offer. For example someone might not want a sunroof or navigation system but wants leather seats or key-less entry. The liberty to choose what the consumer wants should rest with the individual customer and not be dictated by what sells in the mass market.

The advantage to the manufacturer is that they can better manage their inventory and not have the risk of under selling variants stock-pile in the dealers' yards.
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Old 24th June 2015, 17:21   #20
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

While there is enough debate on the Indian customer choosing the mid variants of vehicles over safety features, but do the same variants outside India come without the safety features or bells and whistles?

Additionally, features that are considered premium in many models in India are fairly standard in many other countries, so it is not appropriate to only blame the Indian customer for the manufacturer's willingness to save cost or ignorance
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Old 24th June 2015, 17:31   #21
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

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That will absolutely not scale for mass production I am afraid.

In India, cars aren't generally available off the shelf - the huge demand and (artificially?) restricted supply means that there is a waiting period of anywhere from a few days to even some months for various popular models.
.
I dont think that is unique to India. As far as I'm aware in most European countries, cars are manufactured specifically per customer order and specification and the production lines are able to accomodate that.

I have never ever in my life in Europe not had to wait weeks if not months for my (leased, company) cars.

So you can order your car option by option and most brands have very long list of various options, dozens and dozens. Manufacturers try to standardize and will offer some packaged options, and make it financially attractive to order the packages rather then too many individual options. But you can if you want to. It might impact delivery time though.

In the USA it is very different. Dealers will have vast stock. Mostly fully loaded models. You walk in and an hour you drive away in your new car. but you choice is limited to what you find on dealer forecourt.

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Old 24th June 2015, 18:48   #22
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

Taking a cue from what hserus posted above, I believe the problem in India is that apart from a perception that Indians will want the cheapest thing on four wheels (probably true in any market), car-makers (and their market consultants) believe that for the Indian car buyer,

Safety features = premium features = high end model.

So we have a fully loaded Highline or Zx with the best alloys, stereo, climate control and airbags. The Trendline or Dx will have none of these even though there is a difference between adding a hi fi stereo and an airbag which is not taken note of. That is why in India if we see ABS printed on a car we immediately think -- ah, high end version, fancy!. It's bizarre that people actually get a product differentiation kick out of these features.

Instead if basic models were offerred with just airbags additional I do not think the price increase would be a deal breaker (for the buyer).

Last edited by Kumar R : 24th June 2015 at 18:49.
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Old 24th June 2015, 21:49   #23
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

The indian car manufacturers seem to believe that adding fat chrome strips will compensate for everything else - so regardless of whether wagon-r, duster, honda city etc - every successive model of the car comes with almost no changes except for a few cosmetic ones and progressively extra chrome strips.

As for safety features, that discussion is so old and stale there are whatsapp jokes circulating about it (and before that, I used to see the same thing as an email forward in the mid 90s)

Something about a car salesman who tells the guy "Sir, this car has ABS, Airbags, Crumple zones, [etc]"

The customer replies that he's got lemons, green chillies, a red cloth blessed at the "mata" temple, etc - symbols to ward off the evil eye, religious talismans and so forth - so he doesn't want any of those safety features. "Just take them out of the car and discount it some more for me", he says.
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Old 24th June 2015, 22:31   #24
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

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The indian car manufacturers seem to believe that adding fat chrome strips will compensate for everything else - so regardless of whether wagon-r, duster, honda city etc - every successive model of the car comes with almost no changes except for a few cosmetic ones and progressively extra chrome strips.
I do not think it is entirely upto the manufacturer. Changes are done based on whatever feedback received. Aesthetic change however small they are, cannot be done without investments. So most of the aesthetic treatments or facelifts coincide with some minimal performance upgrade.

An average Indian views cars as a status symbol. So he is content with what people look and does not look at its performance except for maybe mileage and top speed. When the market does not demand certain features, there is no point in investing on testing and development.

When this trend emerged that the demands of our market is different to their global requirement, all the manufactures started to have double standards.

This is probably the rationale behind manufacturers to develop India specific cars, which else where do not meet the regulations.

Our market is yet to mature. After all we take insurance policy to get tax benefits .
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Old 25th June 2015, 08:28   #25
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

Can any expert point out the role of Taxation wrt features list.
We have read on various forums that taxes are as high as 40% of the value of the car, so does that also is a major driving factor apart from demand.
What else can explain the removal of few features in i20 Elite vis-a-vis pre-facelift version.

On a related note I remember Parle-G giving a FULL PAGE Ad mentioning no increase in price since last few years despite rise in inflation while conveniently forgetting that they reduced the quantity of the pack by 20-25%.
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Old 25th June 2015, 11:06   #26
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

Yes, honestly. I agree with the fact that the number of trims a model has actually deviates a customer's prime focus and the then ever-convincing dealers/agents lure buyers into buying the top-end variants. By justifying the little difference it makes to the EMI, people also do not hesitate to go for the bait. For example, consider the New Honda City E variant. I cant hardly resist to bring out the fact that, a car of that stature should have black-colored door handles and ORVMs.

Now coming to the main topic, it truly is a cost-driven, customer-oriented focus that drives inclusion of features in cars in India. As a lay person, I would always be of the opinion that the car should have a good fuel economy, decent features and all this at a fair price. Now, as Indian automobile market that has recently(probably a decade) started flourishing with new and better car makers opting to manufacture and sell here, we see a sure need for the best and latest equipment as on other US/European cars. Though, safety features are still offered as OPTION rather than Standard, I still see a slow but sure shift coming. Airbags and ABS would be primary offerings of manufacturers on most of their trims. Given the competition and technology advancements, the cost of mass manufacturing such equipment too would be subsidized and like the West, we too would have most features as Standard.

Also, if you do some research, the Indian car makers are definitely trying to keep up with their German/Japanese/Korean counterparts by improving their standards, introducing processes to maintain a quality benchmark, etc. For instance, if you see the new gen Tata cars are so advanced and offer almost features of the next segment. This sure goes a long way to attract customers who are budget-conservative.

To conclude, I am sure we will have an era soon, where our cars would have specs as those of their international trims. Exact similar offerings would be made in the Indian markets too. Though this is merely on the cards as of now, lets hope it is reality with initiatives like "Make In India", bringing down import costs and other duty/taxes.
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Old 25th June 2015, 11:07   #27
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

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Can any expert point out the role of Taxation wrt features list.
We have read on various forums that taxes are as high as 40% of the value of the car.
I think an automobile is taxed much more than 40%. Two major taxes are the Excise Duty and Sales tax. Both together constitutes to more than 50% of vehicle cost.

However, request an expert in taxation to comment on exact taxes levied on a car.
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Old 25th June 2015, 11:26   #28
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

Oh please, why do we keep starting such threads when we know it's us Indians and our special nature which makes car makers give us such products?

We are big hypocrites, keep crying about lack of safety features versus international models, yet conveniently forget to wear seatbelts, forget to wear helmets because I am just riding to the corner store, happily drink and drive, especially since we have only one and we are all f1 drivers.
How many of us have stopped at the zebra crossing, allowed pedestrians right of way, not overtaken from the left, not taken an illegal u turn?

What i am getting to is, that as a nation we are careless and callous in terms of respecting rules and almost anti safety. Naturally he majority prefer to buy alloy wheels and other gizmos versus airbags, also what use is an airbag when we don't want to belt up?
Don't blame the car makers, after all they are catering to what we ask for...
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Old 25th June 2015, 11:51   #29
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

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also what use is an airbag when we don't want to belt up?
Don't blame the car makers, after all they are catering to what we ask for...
Great point you made there. Irrespective of the no. of airbags in the vehicle. If we do not wear seat belts, its as good as driving in a car with no safety features. We will be tossed around in the vehicle and prone for severe injuries.

The safety / aesthetic features are already available in some of the variants offered by the manufacturer. If the demand for those models increase they can probably renegotiate with the suppliers and get a better price and pass on the benefit to us and do away with lower spec'ed models.

It us who needs to change and adopt better choices as in other countries.
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Old 25th June 2015, 19:42   #30
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Default Re: Why do Indian cars lack features / safety kit (vis a vis their int'l versions)?

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
But maybe some historical context from Europe:

I would say most (western) countries have gone though a similar experience when it comes to car safety.

...wearing seatbelts had only just become mandatory....but it probably took another 10 years even after it had become mandatory before most people actually started using it as per default.

When it comes to airbags and the adaption, I think the experience was very similar. Originally only available in high end cars, later becoming optionals on small/medium segment and ultemately in numerous cars enforced via regulation.

But again, it takes many years for any society to change and adapt its behaviour. Legislation can help push things.... But I also think this sort of legislation is always a reflection of sentiments in a country/nation. Several esteemed members have already pointed out that many Indians, even when presented with the optional choice they would not go for the safe option. I dont think its different from what was happening 15-30 years ago in western countries.....That goes beyond legislation and car manufacturers policies, although they (legislators/manufacturers) must be held accountable for their part in this as well of course.
Well said Jeroen. This is the most sensible post on the subject and reflects my experience completely. The largest number of car buyers (whether new or second-hand) in India are first time buyers many are the first in their family to ever buy a car hence the emphasis, by the buyer, on cost. Think about the person who commutes on a two wheeler 54 kms a day and then graduates to a second hand Zen*. He may not have bought the safety features we all like but from a safety point of view he has lifted himself up and that's how he sees it. Folks for whom Delhi's over crowded buses or an old two wheeler are the primary modes of transport graduating up to a second hand M800 is a vote for safety and convenience relative to where they started from.

* My wife's driver. Been employed with us two decades. That's the exact commute he does. Delhi-NCR is packed with long distance two wheeler commuters
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