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View Poll Results: Are Indian hatchbacks even safe for cities?
Yes 17 25.00%
No 41 60.29%
Can't say 10 14.71%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 27th May 2017, 20:19   #1
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Default City cars: What about safety?

Hi bhpians,

It's been a long time since I have opened a new thread, and this teenage mind of mine had been involved in other activities until one of my friends decided to buy a second car. Yes,a plethora of options to choose from, isn't it?

However, it's not all very good news. As soon as I asked him the cars he was considering, the only names I could hear were of those A segment hatches. They are good cars no doubt, but I did get a glimpse of Indian mentality when I quizzed him further on what a city car meant to him. This is how the conversation went:

Friend: "We are looking for a beater hatchback. Our big car cannot always do city duty, can it?"

Me: " You are correct. It's a german saloon meant for autobahns. I suggest we look at a polo Trendline or even a pre-worshipped Polo or i20 for that matter."

Friend: "What are you talking about??? It's a city car. Not meant to be taken beyond city limits. We have the bigger car for that, don't we? We look at the Kwid, Alto and the Eon."

His parents agree in unison. I mean no offense to anyone but I am a sucker for safety in all segments. Now, the more practical of you might agree that a city car need not have a 5 star safety rating or airbags. I do not want 6 airbags or ESC or any of those acronyms for that matter We have a long way to go before those make it to budget hatchbacks, but for 5.8 Lakhs ( That is the OTR price of a Renault Kwid RXT (O) variant in Vadodara), I surely won't be an idiot to expect a crash worthy safety structure would I?

We talk about how manufacturers have improved by leaps and bounds when it comes to features, but what about safety in this segment? I see so many owners (typical Indians) bragging about the touchscreens (not a bad feature at all) of their cars, but when I ask them whether their hatch is crash tested and worthy, they look at me as if I have asked for their kidneys.

To add to all this, infrastructure in the country is improving. Average speeds are increasing these days. We see people doing 60-70 Km/hr on main roads ( That is the speed at which the Kwid and even Alto failed crash tests).

Let's just assume that you are a safe driver (which most of us are), but what about that dimwit who doesn't get the meaning of "speed limits" and drives his crash worthy car as if on an Autobahn? You are the one who loses in the end, not him (although you were a sane driver).

As mentioned, I don't want a budget hatchback to be a Jetta or an Octavia, but surely manufacturers can provide us with a crash worthy structure at least can't they?

This thread means no offense to anyone at all. Infact, even we are looking to buy an A segment hatch, which could be the kwid. No offense to any owners at all here.

My question to Team BHP " Are Indian hatchbacks even meant to be driven within the cities?"

Last edited by vishy76 : 27th May 2017 at 20:23.
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Old 27th May 2017, 20:25   #2
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Default City cars, what about safety?

What a nice post Vishy.

I love this focus on safety. Which clearly
means the market of the near future is maturing. And I am glad!

My impression was that younger folks these days would opt for rentals and hires rather than put cap-ex down.
What say?
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Old 27th May 2017, 20:30   #3
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Default City cars, what about safety?

Great thread idea.

All our cities offer several pockets or situations where speeds exceed 64 kmph , the NCAP test speed. Prospective buyers, just look at NCAP videos of cars with similar safety parameters like yours and decide. I don't think anyone would underestimate safety then.

Last edited by GTO : 29th May 2017 at 14:57. Reason: Typo
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Old 27th May 2017, 20:51   #4
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
What a nice post Vishy.

I love this focus on safety. Which clearly
means the market of the near future is maturing. And I am glad!

My impression was that younger folks these days would opt for rentals and hires rather than put cap-ex down.
What say?
Thanks. Yes indeed sir. The only problem I see is that people stand up and applaud when a manufacturer gives them first in class features in these segments, but what about first in class safety? Who would start that revolution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolFire View Post
Great thread idea.

All our cities offer several pockets or situations where speeds exceed 64 kmph , the NCAP test speed. Prospective buyers, just look at NCAP videos of cars with similar safety parameters like yours and decide. I don't think anyone would underestimate safety then.
Thanks again. You are right in saying that. Infrastructure is improving in India and it won't take time for our roads to get better. But, the burning questions is, Will our cars eventually catch up?

Last edited by GTO : 29th May 2017 at 14:58. Reason: Typo
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Old 27th May 2017, 20:55   #5
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Till date, the only 'budget' hatchbacks whose chassis has been found to remain stable in crash tests are the Etios Liva and the Polo (old Figo is now discontinued). Everything else that has been tested has failed and failed big. Even cars which were deemed safe internationally have been found deliberately underspeced here (prime example - everyone's favorite, Swift).

Has failure in crash tests made any difference to sale volumes? No. Have the company's stock prices dropped? No again. We as a market are far far away from being anything close to safety conscious. And lets not be too thrilled about the upcoming Bharat-NCAP, the auto lobby has managed to influence its tech specs. What were are getting is a specced down and diluted version on Euro NCAP, not the real thing.

I as a safety conscious buyer will not look beyond those cars which are genuine international products like Ecosport or Polo, the ones which have not been Indian-ized much. Rare exceptions aside, fact is that they all make a separate India quality, and a separate international quality of the same car. As far as we Indian car buyers are concerned, Indianization and localization have been reduced to being diplomatically correct terms for short charging a trusting and unsuspecting consumer base.

Last edited by Shreyans_Jain : 27th May 2017 at 20:57.
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Old 27th May 2017, 21:09   #6
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

I've always maintained 'Made for India' is just the PC way of saying 'This hunk of junk won't sell anywhere else'.

Not that the majority cares. Maruti having half the market says all that needs to be said of our mass market's safety consciousness. Before someone jumps in to defend Maruti, that comment is as much about the customer base as about the manufacturer. When VFM trumps VFL (Value for Life) in this country all the way, why blame someone for profiting off it?

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 27th May 2017 at 21:12.
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Old 27th May 2017, 21:27   #7
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
I've always maintained 'Made for India' is just the PC way of saying 'This hunk of junk won't sell anywhere else'.

Not that the majority cares. Maruti having half the market says all that needs to be said of our mass market's safety consciousness. Before someone jumps in to defend Maruti, that comment is as much about the customer base as about the manufacturer. When VFM trumps VFL (Value for Life) in this country all the way, why blame someone for profiting off it?
This thread is not meant to blame anyone. It's just that I want manufacturers to understand that India deserves what other European nations do. Yes, people still buy cars like these, but do we have another choice in these segments?

R.S Kalsi was thrashed by many when he said that Indians don't need safety but our mentality is such. I just hope that it improves with time or we will never progress further.

IMHO, a market is not called developing when we have luxury marques introducing their premium offerings here, but only when Indians become safety conscious. If we can fight for a good feature set in our cars, why not do the same for safety?

Last edited by vishy76 : 27th May 2017 at 21:29.
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Old 27th May 2017, 21:31   #8
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Great thread vishy76. Recently I faced a similar problem. We were actually planning to buy a similar 'city car'. I was hell bent on buying a used polo or any other used premium hatchback. But my father was reluctant, and kept insisting on buying an Alto or a Kwid. I personally feel that today's youth is open to using pre-worshipped cars and don't have that bias or fear in their mind against used vehicles. But I fell that the earlier generation is still a bit reluctant to buy used cars.
At the same time I feel that today car companies have come a long way. Companies are concentrating on safety as the consumers are becoming more and more aware about these things. Hence I feel we will be seeing many cars that are perfect for the city and also on the highway and are safe at the same time at comparatively low prices.
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Old 27th May 2017, 21:42   #9
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
....It's just that I want manufacturers to understand that India deserves what other European nations do.... [/b]
'Deserve' doesn't get into the picture at all. Manufacturers do whatever is best for their bottom line, while staying within the regulations of a specific market.

If Europe/USA relaxed safety norms tomorrow, do you think manufacturers will blink twice before cutting corners there too? VW (and a few others) cheated on emissions globally, because​ cheating was cheaper than meeting increasingly demanding norms. Would be the same story on any other parameter where it's possible to save money without being held accountable.

Demand comes before supply, so people (and their representative govt. by extension) need to figure out what they want, then enforce it. India is a predominantly VFM automotive market today, but I hope your generation and the ones after will push us in the right direction.

We'll get there, maybe in a few generations, hopefully.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 27th May 2017 at 21:45.
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Old 27th May 2017, 22:24   #10
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
1) My question to Team BHP " Are Indian hatchbacks even meant to be driven within the cities?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
2) This thread is not meant to blame anyone. It's just that I want manufacturers to understand that India deserves what other European nations do. Yes, people still buy cars like these, but do we have another choice in these segments?

3) IMHO, a market is not called developing when we have luxury marques introducing their premium offerings here, but only when Indians become safety conscious. If we can fight for a good feature set in our cars, why not do the same for safety?
The question if the hatchbacks are even safe in city confines touches a lot of aspects.

Voted for Yes in the poll. Reasons are many, ranging from weather protection to not fearing falling down from bike due to other's fault. I have had a rather nasty fall while riding my Suzuki Zues motorcycle on 7-12-2010, barely 1.5~1.75 kms. from home. Took 3 months to walk properly again. And right now, affording safest available hatchback isn't on my list. Hence I am happy to use my Wagon R and Swift for city and highway duties.

1) If we were only discussing safety, then yes, some city hatchbacks currently on sale in India are not safe as the crash tests have suggested. In that case, we do have results on our hand to conclude the matter. Most of the mass market cars on sale in India don't or aren't likely to fare well in crash tests. And all available crash test results are quite widely published.

So why we usually see these "unsafe" hatchback being used everywhere in India. That brings Affordability, Awareness and Legislation in mind. Lets face it, if we factor in GNI per capita income, India's rank is in second half of the list. To cut things short, not all can afford a well built safe hatchback (not all hatchbacks no sale in India are tested). Some might find this debatable, but IMHO, factor of affordability does matter.

Second thing is awareness. Even if some buyers can afford to get a safer hatchback and they refrain from purchasing it, thats obviously due to lack of awareness. Though the awareness levels are increasing, I still come across many who feel that ABS allows them to sustain higher speeds on highway and once a car has ABS and airbags (some people still call it balloon) they are almost next to invincible. No offence to anybody, but when we come across instances like lack of lane discipline, kids still sitting in somebody's lap and not in child seat, driving on wrong side, etc. we should not expect great logic while making a purchase.

2) This boils down to existing framework of laws which I mentioned above as legislation. A nice discussion on somewhat similar line is already initiated here (Government regulations on the automobile sector - Good or Bad?). And for the number of choices of products we can have, the factor of affordability would play an important role.

3) Shall Disagree. Most of the features/technology which is now widely available were first seen in premium cars. Very few would have thought of ABS/Airbags being available in city hatchbacks a decade and a half ago.

As far as safety consciousness goes, well, I think from Indian context, if Indians were to become safety conscious, the first step should be discipline.
I dont refute the fact that safer cars are a must, but when we as a nation find it difficult to display common sense while using road, safety consciousness is out of question. Its still a long way to go.

Last edited by aaggoswami : 27th May 2017 at 22:32. Reason: Adding some points
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Old 27th May 2017, 22:32   #11
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Keeping aside the speed with which we drive in City, even just waiting at a traffic signal could turn disastrous. I like to quote one of old thread from me where a Punto was sandwiched between two trucks while idle at a traffic signal within City limits in Chennai.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...es-family.html (A Fiat Punto saves a family)

We don't need safety features in cars to drive in City is a myth, according to me.
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Old 27th May 2017, 22:43   #12
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rameshnanda View Post
Keeping aside the speed with which we drive in City, even just waiting at a traffic signal could turn disastrous. I like to quote one of old thread from me where a Punto was sandwiched between two trucks while idle at a traffic signal within City limits in Chennai.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...es-family.html (A Fiat Punto saves a family)

We don't need safety features in cars to drive in City is a myth, according to me.
Absolutely. And to add to it...

Not only do we need city cars with safety features, we need city cars that are safe. Cars that have a well designed and sturdy chassis. Airbags are of little use if the chassis itself fails.
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Old 28th May 2017, 00:19   #13
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Hmm!!! can't really say whether Indian hatch backs are safe or not.

Just a couple of hatchbacks (currently on sale) cleared the NCAP with 4 star rating + a stable body structure - the polo and the Liva. Rest of them failed to get the stars with even the ones with stars, rated as having unstable body structure.

In India, a safe car is subjective. It depends on 3 things

1. The structure of the vehicle.
2. Safety features provided in the vehicle.
3. The driver driving the vehicle.

These 3 parameters are critical but can we have a combination of any 2 of the above?

1 & 2 is pointless without the 3rd, a skilled & sensible driver.

2 & 3 can end up being safe since a skilled and sensible driver with the help of safety features might be able to prevent a crash.

1 & 3 might also end up being safe since with the combination of a good structural rigidity and a skilled driver, one can survive a crash in most cases (of course with Karma smiling at you)

So, of the 3 scenarios, one thing is clear, the DRIVER: Skilled & Sensible might be able to make a car SAFE.

As a driver in India, you need the following

1. Good reflexes
2. Good anticipation skills
3. Quicker reaction times
4. Patience
5. Concentration &
6. God's grace

I drive an Eon and I ensure I use all the active safety features, It has no passive safety.

1. Seat belts

2. Use IRVM and ORVMs. I see a lot of drivers with ORVMs closed and they just don't know the amount of trouble they cause for fellow commuters.

3. Indicators and break lights in working condition. Again a lot of cars with dysfunctional tail lamps.

So the onus is on the DRIVER of the car and I believe that to a large extent, the best safety feature of a car is the Driver, a skilled and a sensible one.

Not denying the importance of safety features and a stable body structure. My next car will have safety features and a stable body structure. I am a sensible driver, but am I a skilled one? Well, that is for others to certify.

Ideal situation

1. Cars with stable body structure and safety features.

2. Skilled and sensible drivers: better attitude and courtesy for fellow commuters and a lot of patience.

3. Good infrastructure: Proper roads, bridges, working signals, clear sign boards.

I still can't say whether Indian hatchbacks are safe or not. It depends and hence voting for Can't Say

Last edited by Karthik Chandra : 28th May 2017 at 00:29.
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Old 28th May 2017, 00:24   #14
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik Chandra View Post
Hmm!!! can't really say whether Indian hatch backs are safe or not.

Just a couple of hatchbacks cleared the NCAP with 4 star rating + a stable body structure - the polo and the Liva. Rest of them failed to get the stars with even the ones with stars, rated as having unstable body structure.

In India, a safe car is subjective. It depends on 3 things

1. The structure of the vehicle.
2. Safety features provided in the vehicle.
3. The driver driving the vehicle.

These 3 parameters are critical but can we have a combination of any 2 of the above?

1 & 2 is pointless without the 3rd, a skilled & sensible driver.

2 & 3 can end up being safe since a skilled and sensible driver with the help of safety features might be able to prevent a crash.

1 & 3 might also end up being safe since with the combination of a good structural rigidity and a skilled driver, one can survive a crash in most cases
Well said. The driver is a major factor when it comes to these things however, god or shall I say luck cannot be on everyone's side and thats where safety works.

Refer to this link

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...es-family.html (A Fiat Punto saves a family)

Luck might not have been on his side, but safety was.
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Old 28th May 2017, 01:03   #15
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Default re: City cars: What about safety?

I feel perfectly safe driving tiny or old hatchbacks in the city, even with kids on board.

I'm not kidding - but the biggest fear these days while driving in Bangalore is the fear of tree branch or entire tree falling on your car. It is extremely windy (accompanied by rains) in the evenings here.

A small AT hatchback with a strong roll cage is best for Bangalore
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