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Old 13th November 2014, 23:27   #1
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Default Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

In what may be a somewhat terrifying development that tries to detract attention from the urgent need for safety features in all cars sold in this country, Maruti Suzuki Chairman Mr. R. C. Bhargava has come out with a statement that implies that the need for active and passive safety features in motor vehicles sold in India is probably redundant in the present scenario.

More safety features in cars will mean less road safety, says Maruti chief

New Delhi | Posted: November 12, 2014 2:07 am
RC Bhargava, chairman of the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki, has cautioned the government against falling for any global body’s assertion that safety measures like airbags or disc brakes be made mandatory for all cars, even entry-level ones.

In an interview with FE, Bhargava said recommendations like the recent one from the Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), a private autonomous body, would only expose consumers to more risks. He said that if carmakers incorporate such features in even entry-level cars, obviously the price would go up, which would lead consumers to opt for two-wheelers, which would be more unsafe.

He said that such findings by global autonomous bodies did not take into account Indian conditions and acting on them could be counterproductive.
“The intention should be to reduce road fatalities. Therefore, we have to take a total picture of Indian road issues. If you only take cars, that results in just 3-4% improvement. But this may also do damage somewhere else, because the risk factor of a person driving a two-wheeler is far higher than those driving even old Fiat cars,” he said.

“Are you overall helping or reducing safety? The person who graduates to a car from a two-wheeler is a very marginal guy, a little bit of price increase and he will push the purchase away for the next year. We saw that when the petrol prices went up, these guys could not afford cars,” he added.
Though the road ministry has not come forward with any concrete proposal so far, there have been suggestions at the official level to make airbags mandatory in all cars to increase road safety.

Going by current cost estimates, adding two front airbags to an entry-level and the country’s top-selling car like the Alto 800 would add about R30,000 to the starting price of R2.4 lakh. Further, adding an anti-lock braking system, which reduces braking distances especially in wet conditions, will further push the price up by about R10,000.

In the most recent tests conducted this month, Global NCAP tested the Maruti Swift and Datsun Go. In February this year, it had tested the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo. Besides the Polo and Figo, all other cars completely failed the tests. The agency conducts side impact test, where another car hits the target vehicle at 40 kmph, and a frontal offset test at 64 kmph.

“People are talking of car safety and we have about 1.5 lakh road fatalities, therefore cars should be made more safe. None of these people have established any link between the number of deaths and cars. If you actually look at the data, there is huge difference. One point is that in the EU, 50% of the road fatalities are inside cars, but in India it is 16%. This is because two-wheelers and pedestrians are far higher,” Bhargava said. He said that a “commercial angle” is always present in pushing such technologies.

“Somebody wants to sell an airbag, what does he do? He pushes the safety angle. Nobody has yet proved that unsafe cars are the reason for higher road fatalities,” he said, adding that most companies now offer airbags in the top variants of all car models, so if buyers drive on highways at higher speeds, they can buy that version. Incidentally, Global NCAP chairman Max Mosley has also written a letter to Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn asking the company to withdraw the “substandard” Datsun Go model from India and other markets because its body shell is so unstable that even adding airbags would be pointless.

Bhargava speak
  • There’s no linkage in India between road fatalities and unsafe cars
  • Unlike in EU countries where 50% road fatalities are inside cars, in India it is only 16%
  • There could be a commercial angle in pushing such safety technologies
  • Such measures can improve road safety by only 3-4%
  • Features like airbags are offered in higher-end cars
Not only does Mr. Bhargava think "safety last", but there appear to be at least some strong supporters of his school of thought. One reader called PlugIn Caroo, who responded to the news article, shares a link to his own blog that rants about the *conspiracy theory* of European car manufacturers trying to unfairly eliminate competition from Indian and other Asian car manufacturers through the use of EuroNCAP and Global NCAP. Read the blog below:

Road safety might mean different things to different people who are driving different vehicles but the result is almost always the same – the bigger vehicle always wins. By NCAP standards safest vehicle on the road today is the Road Roller.

What is this obsession of Safety rating only cars? What about ratings for other vehicles right from two wheelers to trailer trucks? What about safety ratings for Bikes? What about safety ratings for 3 wheelers? What about Safety ratings for Passenger Buses? What about safety ratings for Trailers? What about safety rating for bloody Trains…Don’t they need it? Safety rating for cars are just marketing gimmicks. People fall for it cause it is done quite well just like they do “global warming” and “world is running out of drinking water” scams.

One can keep adding hundreds of levels of safety to cars… from quality of nuts and bolts to thickness of steels, rebars, radars, technology etc. But with every level of safety the cost of the car increases… at the same time the equipment doesn’t provide you complete protection… it just shields you a little and in a head on crash (which most of these testing are done) against a bigger vehicle you are still vulnerable.

A high speed crash is not as simple as a car hitting a block and coming to a standstill. Most of the time in a high speed crash the first impact is just the beginning of a series of impacts. . The car could get pushed into the oncoming traffic lane… or into the next lane… where it could get hit by other vehicles. The vehicle could even roll over more than once. The vehicle could get hit from both front and back… the vehicle could even catch fire if petrol leaks from the pipes. Sometimes all of these could happen in a single crash before the vehicle comes to a stop.

Speed Kills & No car is safe - dont let NCAP fool you... No car is safe!!!
Speed Kills & No car is safe – don’t let NCAP fool you… No car is safe!!!

Another interesting point to note is all these testing happens at low 60kmph speed and no testing happens above 120kmph. The inverse is true in real life as most life threatening crashes happens at speeds over 120kmph. At such speed the data for all cars would show the driver dead. A car crash is never as simple as made out in the NCAP testing program where a dummy drives up to a wall in low speed (approx. 60km) and crashes into it head on. Honestly I don’t know anybody who drives at 60km on a open road unless in traffic.

People pay extra to buy “safe cars” that will help them in a crash above 100 kmph and not one at parking speed. In a very big country like India its very rare to see a car that has crashed the NCAP way while in a tiny country like Qatar its quite familiar sight. Where the speeds are higher the danger of crashes are higher.

Interested in emerging "economies" - why should a safety testing co be interested in economies?!!??
Interested in emerging “economies” – why should a safety testing co be interested in economies?!!??

As in all moving objects whenever a lighter vehicle is hit by a heavier vehicle the lighter vehicle is always at a disadvantage.

Say if a walking person is hit by a cyclist then the walking person is vulnerable.

If a Cyclist is hit by a Motorcyclist then the Cyclist is at a disadvantage.
If a Motorcyclist is hit by an auto rickshaw the motorcyclist is at a disadvantage.
If an auto rickshaw is hit by a subcompact car like Alto then the auto rickshaw is at a disadvantage.
If an Alto is hit by a slightly bigger car from the same company like Sx4 the alto is advantage.
If a Sedan is hit by a SUV the lighter sedan is at a disadvantage.
If a SUV is hit by a Bus the SUV is at a disadvantage.
If a Bus is hit by a Truck carrying heavy load then the bus is at a disadvantage.
In a crash the driver is at a disadvantage than the front passenger.
Both the driver and the front passenger is at a disadvantage than the rear passenger.
The rear passengers are at serious danger in a hatch back or subcompact car if the car is hit from behind by a heavier vehicle at high speed.
All vehicles are at a disadvantage above 100kms speed.
All vehicles in the vicinity are also as disadvantage if you are driving above 120kmph.
You are death on vehicles to yourself and to others above 150kmph, a tyre blast could kill you or even kill others if your vehicle crashes into their vehicle even if they are driving below 100kmph.
I am not going to explain what would happen if a Truck with 19,000 kg load hits a 2,000 kg sedan car which has a 5 star NCAP safety rating. The first to go out of the window would be the safety rating.

I believe the biggest danger with the safety rating pro gramme is that it gives the driver a false sense of invincibility… he thinks that the car can survive crashes… The Safety Rating lets him to drive the car at high speed and even believes he can escape unhurt in a crash. This is anything from the truth. In a crash over 120kmph the chances of survival are bleak and you would end up like a vegetable if at all you survive. Most accidents and speed violations are committed by the so called “Safe Cars”. The truth is that SPEED KILLS & NO CAR IS SAFE.

New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)


Euro NCAP is composed of seven European Governments as well as Motoring Organizations and consumer organisations in every European country.

(Now how dependable would the figures given by say an agency run by the Government of India and Maruti, Tata, Mahindra, Force Motors, Bajaj, Etc). Such an agency would be considered a fraud agency… similarly NCAP is a fraud agencyof not only passing judgement on competing car companies but also creating political clout to stop competition from selling cars. Such an action is tantamount to proxy war not only on the automobile market of that country but also on the economy and jobs of that country. It is a shame that such companies are being encouraged to set up shop in India and other Asian countries when they try to ban those countries car from selling not only in their countries but also in other countries.

EuroNCAP tests for protection of car occupants in frontal and side impact, and a component test procedure for assessing the protection of pedestrians, hit by the fronts of cars”.

***… you read it right “assessing the protection of pedestrians, hit by the fronts of cars”. Crazy?… you tell me… … Wonder why they don’t give rating based on this part?
The Indian government is either unable or unwilling to develop its own NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) at the present time, and rants like these from heavyweights like Mr. Bhargava will certainly scuttle any chances of such a program being launched any time in the near future.

Till we as a nation manage to unite in our demand for safer cars AND drivers on our roads, and till sanity prevails, the best we can do is to continue with the prevalent practice of using garlands, coconuts, vermillion swastika marks, prayer, incense sticks, idols, stickers on windscreens and elsewhere - and the quiet folding of hands and touching the forehead every time before we fire up the engine - to keep us safe. Till then, I can only hope (and also pray) that the numbers of Mr. Bhargava and PlugIn Caroo's tribe manage to see reason soon.

FATALISM: The belief that the driver is powerless to do anything other than what he actually does. He has no power to influence the future, or indeed, his own actions; therefore, his actions are free, and the result is inevitable, pre-determined and ordained by God.

No wonder then, that so many drivers in India decorate their car dashboards with so many religious symbols.

Let us change that mindset.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 13th November 2014 at 23:30.
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Old 13th November 2014, 23:57   #2
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

The statement reads like "Safety First" is not the mantra that MSIL believes in for the guys who just bought 6-10 Lakh rupee cars from them, and trusted them with their lives.

This statement is bound to leave a lasting impression on the young people who drive on our roads and who work for the company, as it comes from the biggest car manufacturer of India.

In my opinion, this defense of decisions taken, which have resulted in expected but unwanted results - the inconvenient truth - is one of the biggest outcomes of the Swift NCAP tests.

Last edited by GTO : 14th November 2014 at 17:45. Reason: Typo
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Old 13th November 2014, 23:58   #3
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

I actually cannot completely deny what they have to say and mark their comments as rubbish. However, saying that their points are not justified as excuses for not providing safety features in cars. It will make me vulnerable to harm even at low speeds. Why should that be ?
My house can break down in a big earthquake or a tsunami that does not mean I will use the lowest quality of materials which will make it fall in the slightest of vibrations.

Also if ABS is so useless why do the manufacturers advertise them to be Safety features with diagrams ?

Last edited by Altocumulus : 14th November 2014 at 00:01.
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Old 14th November 2014, 00:12   #4
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

So for Rs. 40,000, a consumer would go and buy a bike over a car?
What is the likelihood of that happening?
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Old 14th November 2014, 00:14   #5
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

nonsense I say

If a machine is designed to be used by a very small segment of population , it does not absolve the manufacturer of his responsibility to follow good design practices which includes safety considerations. You can't make an inherently unsafe designs , sell it to unsuspecting buyers and justify the decision saying that only a small part of population uses it.

For example a power drill is used by very few people but still the manufacturers have to include various safety mechanisms as trigger lock to prevent its accidental misuse.

As for the allegation that only bigger cars getting 5 star ratings is baseless. Many cheap cars from manufacturers of economy cars get five star rating such as European version of Hyundai i20 , Ford Fiesta , Toyota Yaris , Volkswagen Up , Skoda Fabia , Fiat Grande Punto , Renault clio and even European Suzuki Swift and so on , the list is endless where as premium car such as Jaguar XF has got only 4 stars.

Further more all these NCAP agencies provide exhaustive data to support their conclusions logically rather than mumbo-jumbo from Mr. Barghava and the blogger mentioned in the above post.

I'm totally at a loss of words. What do these guys smoke?
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Old 14th November 2014, 00:26   #6
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

I have stayed away from all the debate on safety related threads as I used to indulge in it a year or two ago in some Fiat specific threads.

Anyway, back to the current topic. The entire context of this article and perhaps Mr. Bhargava's understanding of safety might change if he chooses to use absolute terms instead of relative terms.
  • There’s no linkage in India between road fatalities and unsafe cars - Time to do better research and observe it from a better perspective. Perhaps Mr. Bhargava might want to evaluate the brands of cars in which the 16% in-car fatalities happened and then publish those numbers. It might make an interesting read.
  • Unlike in EU countries where 50% road fatalities are inside cars, in India it is only 16% - I was checking the data for fatalities in EU countries. I could find a WHO report with data from 2010. As per it, Italy had 3753, Germany had 3520, France had 3250, UK had 2175, rest were lesser. Even if we combine all that, it will be less than 10% of no. of fatalities in India - 243,475. I am sure Mr. Bhargava will agree that 16% of 243,475 will be higher than 50% of any of those EU countries. PS: The only country with higher fatalities is China - 275,983. Another country that's not known for manufacturing very safe cars. Does anyone see any correlation there?
  • There could be a commercial angle in pushing such safety technologies. Such measures can improve road safety by only 3-4% - Again, I wish he considered absolute nos. 3-4% of 16% of ~300000. That's close to 2,000. Doesn't sound insignificant to me.

Safety should always be in absolute terms. It's either safe or unsafe. We can't accept a logic like "an unsafe car is safer than a two-wheeler". As a responsible manufacturer, his focus should be on making safety features affordable and available to all. If a person can't afford a safe car then he should travel in a safer bus or metro or train. Else, ride a bike with proper safety gear. Wish and hope that Mr. Bhargava and his clan understand the importance of safety. Till that time I would focus on NCAP stars instead of 'Kitna Deti Hai'.

Last edited by Biraj : 14th November 2014 at 00:28.
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Old 14th November 2014, 00:31   #7
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What do you expect from a company that omits airbags and ABS from all its AT variants just to keep prices down?

As for that other misguided fool, I can only pity him. No point discussing what he has blogged and give him even more credence than he deserves.
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Old 14th November 2014, 01:24   #8
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

The thing is, if Maruti brings in airbags & ABS in its base models as well, the sales of the top end models will significantly drop where most of the profit is. Now a days, there are people who buy the top variant just because of the safety features even though, they do not need the additional gizmos. Moreover Maruti chief has been saying so much on the addition of airbags & ABS, Does he have an answer for the Euro spec swift to have a rigid body structure compared to the Indian swift? If quality has taken a dip due to localization of parts, then the export variant of the swifts are manufactured by a upper grade of same local parts?
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Old 14th November 2014, 01:28   #9
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

What a load of trash on safety, that too from a company that sells the most number of cars. Very sad to hear such comments and feel sad for the uninformed buyers as well!

I hope our government could do something to beat sense into these dimwits and make at least airbags/abs-ebd mandatory on all cars sold in India!
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Old 14th November 2014, 02:12   #10
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

I dont understand this "demand" thing. What exactly are we demanding here?
Don't we already have cars with airbags available in the market?
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Old 14th November 2014, 02:39   #11
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

Honestly it makes you laugh in pity after reading such blogs and of course the “interview” from the head of Maruti Suzuki !
I am sorry I really don’t mean any offence ; but I should say that one should never argue with fools because they can take you down to their level and beat you.

I have said it in another post and I am saying it again here; “safety is a culture” .
There have been various cultural shocks in India ; this is one of them few good ones which i hope jolts everyone up
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Old 14th November 2014, 03:31   #12
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

All I have made out so far is RC Bhargava's intellectual capabilities rival this gentleman who speaks of cloud computing.

I hope BHPians avoid hiring, working for or doing business with either of these guys outside of the entertainment industry

On topic though, the volume of A segment and B1 segment (see image below), the two price points where full safety kit may be excused, is only 25% of the vehicles. If A segment comes without safety features (for its price to be accessible to all) and B1 segment comes with only 2 airbags and ABS (since it is also price sensitive but to a lesser degree) and B2 and above segments come with full kit of 7+ airbags, ABS and ESP I see no reason why adding safety should push more people towards two wheelers instead of cars.

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Old 14th November 2014, 06:36   #13
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

A couple of decades ago, most cars sold in India did not have power steering or airconditioning. Now in the 21st century, most cars/models/variants do. Did the Indian customer stop buying vehicles because these features made cars that much more expensive?
In my view, it definitely is the responsibility of the market leaders to show the way ahead for the Indian customer - if necessary to educate them on priorities, on the importance of safety features (and safe driving). They could take it as a responsibility to society.
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Old 14th November 2014, 07:00   #14
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

We were thinking that MSIL is silent on these crash test and will come out with some good news for its future customers by making these features standard in all of their cars but surprised to see their approach towards safety features (as per them luxury feature, selling in top variants only).

He said that a “commercial angle” is always present in pushing such technologies.
Or its your commercial angle to sell low cost cars without safety feature.

Offering safety features like ABS, airbag in top variants only is a "commercial angle" where you force the buyer to opt for music system, alloys, leather seat if he is serious about safety in his car and make big money.

“Somebody wants to sell an airbag, what does he do? He pushes the safety angle.”
When you make AMT cars then you advertise that this will make your drive easy then what is wrong if an airbag manufacturing company talk about safety of cars directly or indirectly. You still want talk about double DIN music system, power windows, alloy rims or leather seats!!

most companies now offer airbags in the top variants of all car models, so if buyers drive on highways at higher speeds, they can buy that version.
So according to MSIL, people buying entry level cars/lower end variants should not hit highways.
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Old 14th November 2014, 07:14   #15
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Default re: Safety last? Maruti Chairman Mr. R.C. Bhargava's ridiculous statements

Start reading users manual of any Maruti car and you will find more tips on saving fuel rather than tips on safety. If they can make people of India so much fuel conscious then why they can't make them aware about safety?

But safety has never been a priority for Maruti so safety first or last is not even in question here. Then the statements coming from the guys at top position in Maruti are comparable to statements coming from leaders of UP-Bihar, what more can be expected from them.
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