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Old 25th January 2021, 12:16   #1
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Default Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

I see a lot of cars where most safety features are only available on the top-end trim. You may not need most bells and whistles, but this indirectly forces a safety-conscious customer to upgrade to a top-end trim even when they don't need many these extras.

Examples that I can recollect from the top of my mind are:
  1. Rear disc brakes in Toyota Yaris.
  2. More airbags in Innova Crysta.

I'm guessing if they can put 6/7 airbags in the top end trim, it is not impossible for them to put them in the base trim either.

I can understand where this might not be applicable in certain situations, like ESC being available only with DCT in Kia Sonet.
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Old 25th January 2021, 12:39   #2
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

I had this question in my mind for a long time! Thanks for posting. When I was car shopping nearly 2 years ago, my key requirements were,
1) 6+ airbags and 5* NCAP
2) All wheel discs
3) ABS+ESC
4) Cost as low as possible and below 10L

There was nothing below 16 Lakhs which met all these requirements!

Why can't the manufacturers experiment with making an optional (O) variant for all their cars right from base model and see how many of them opt for it? If advertised properly, I think a significant portion of people will opt for the safety packs. In my case, I did not have the 6+ airbag requirement in my mind initially. I thought 5* NCAP was sufficient. Then I saw the Ford advertisement where a small girl asks her dad why she doesn't get airbags at the back and the advertisement goes on to say safety is important to your family too. I instantly decided I MUST buy a 6 Airbag car!

I am 100% certain there will be significant takers for a safety pack if price difference is in the ballpark of 50k to 75k. Ford had a price gap of 30k between their 2 Airbag and 6 Airbag variangs so 75k for extra 4 airbags, all wheel discs and ESC should be easily doable!
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Old 25th January 2021, 13:03   #3
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Simply because the general customers don't give preference ! Except for us here at Team-Bhp and a few informed consumers, the general public will prefer :
Gigantic touchscreens, fancy alloys, Sunroofs, LED lights over additional airbags, ABS, EBD, safety tech etc. It is all about what you can show off externally.

How do you expect the manufactures to come up with a safety pack then ? I have lost the number of times I have argued with folks in the front passenger seat to fasten their seatbelts. I am not even going into rear seat belts. "What is that even there for ?", Most have asked me. Also I have seen multiple instances where toddlers are placed in laps of the front seat passengers. They say in case of accidents the child is more safe in their arms rather than child seats. Also the child can enjoy the road view better. How do you reason with such people.

The main reason I went with the entry variant in the new city is for offering all safety features from the top variant. Except for the additional 2 airbags in the top variant, I got every safety feature from the top variant with 4 airbags. Look at the comparison.

Why are safety packs not a thing in India?-city-v-safety.png

Last edited by TrackDay : 25th January 2021 at 13:10.
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Old 25th January 2021, 13:13   #4
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Why is safety pack not a thing in India?

Well, because Indian's have an alternative available, that costs way lesser and is considered even more reliable than a safety pack. The logic is rather simple, "avoid accidents altogether, instead of trying to avoid injury". So the alternative is our age old and proven:-

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Old 25th January 2021, 13:21   #5
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

I think this is because of the fatter margins that manufacturers get on selling a car's top variants.
For example, if a person is in the market in search of a safe SUV in the 15-25 lakh range, the top choice for most would be the Tata Harrier (even though it is untested). Now a safety-conscious customer would want to go for 6 airbags, hill start assist, etc. and to get all this he/she would have to shell out 23 lakhs on the Harrier XZ. If there had been a safety pack one could get all the safety features for around 18 lakhs (17 for XE + 1 for safety pack).

Therefore the company made much more profit just by adding cosmetic features (which can also be added as accessories at a lower cost) along with essential safety features.

However, I feel that Tata must add a 6 airbags option on the Altroz and Nexon, as there must be people going for top-spec i20, Sonet, Ecosport instead of Altroz & Nexon just because of the number of airbags.

Last edited by PetrolheadRup : 25th January 2021 at 13:40.
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Old 25th January 2021, 13:22   #6
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrackDay View Post
Except for the additional 2 airbags in the top variant, I got every safety feature from the top variant with 4 airbags.
This is pretty good.

On another note, is it even possible to add those extra airbags to the car? Being a layman, I'm assuming some extra sensors would also have to be fitted along with the airbags assembly beside the seats.
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Old 25th January 2021, 13:32   #7
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

First and foremost nothing bad will ever happen to me, and if does happen then it's not my/my car's fault! This attitude coupled with the fact that we as a car market are more price concious than safety concious. Sticker price plays a huge role in Indian context.
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Old 25th January 2021, 13:50   #8
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Few reasons for this:
1) Safety doesn't sell cars in India, features do. Hence we have variants with careful spread of bells and whistles at distributed price points of a car, but not for safety.

2) The prevalent perception that all cars are safe no matter what. Had it not been for advent of GNCAP and the lateral need of differentitation by some manufacturers, the majority Indian public would have never known and acknowledged that some cars are indeed safer than the others, in the same price bands that is!

3) A 'Safety Pack' will be mostly intangible at the showroom floor, hence will be a difficult sell. While features, they are out their to be seen and experienced.

4) To discerning safety conscious buyers, it is relatively easier for brands to up-sell their top variants, which entail fatter margins. So as a buyer, you get the safety net, and they make more money. Everybody wins! So why compromise on margins by doling out the safety goodies in lower variants.

5) The buyers' mindset that we buy cars to live with them and enjoy their features/luxuries, not to meet an accident with them. So features always get precedent over safety.
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Old 25th January 2021, 14:18   #9
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Salesman : Sir we have newly introduced a safety pack for this model, would you like to go for it?

Imagine the customer`s mind now, he must be thinking that its a badly designed vehicle that now needs a separate safety pack while the competitors are offering safety as standard.

Toyota did try selling a safety pack once in Etios - I guess they realized quickly that its not the same as Alloy wheels.
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Old 25th January 2021, 15:27   #10
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nagr22 View Post
Why can't the manufacturers experiment with making an optional (O) variant for all their cars right from base model and see how many of them opt for it?

Ford had a price gap of 30k between their 2 Airbag and 6 Airbag variangs so 75k for extra 4 airbags, all wheel discs and ESC should be easily doable!
Well, Maruti did have an optional version. When I had to buy the wagonR I went for the VXi(O) which had ABS and dual airbags. The dealer told that he didn't have an ETA since Maruti will make and dispatch that model only after it has a booking of 100 cars across India and that dealer(largest in the city) didn't have any other orders. Was it a lie, I don't know but since we had to get the car ASAP we went with what we had. But till date in my city I have just seen 1 wagonR with the ABS badging although I can't recall the registration state.
I would also love the safety pack, especially if XUV300 offers the 7 airbags since W8 and W8(O) are off by a lakh and I don't want the sunroof.

Core of this issue would lie in the logistics of making a particular model. Manufacturers won't prefer to break their production chain time and again based on individual orders. That's why their variants are placed to resemble the demand as close as possible. There is something for everyone rather than everything for everyone.

I am happy that at least a model already exists which I don't have to wait for although pricier.
But as the concern towards safety grows this will change to our likings but over time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zapstar View Post
I'm guessing if they can put 6/7 airbags in the top end trim, it is not impossible for them to put them in the base trim either.

I can understand where this might not be applicable in certain situations, like ESC being available only with DCT in Kia Sonet.
Not impossible but definitely not feasible. There are linked costs like if the airbags are in the seats then they can't have seat covers. But then the complaint would be about the fabric seats, adding leather/leatherette seats will add to the cost again, which is not done in a base model.

I have driven both rear discs and drums in cars and honestly I couldn't feel the difference but that being said I am also an average driver so that could be it. But always good to have.
Personally I would rather have all the safety kit in the mid to top-1 variants rather than packs, like a XUV300 W7(fictitious) with 7 airbags

Quote:
Originally Posted by VKumar View Post
Why is safety pack not a thing in India?
Good one
Not to forget the dangling shoes and dashboard blessings.

Last edited by shancz : 25th January 2021 at 15:31. Reason: typo, formatting
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Old 25th January 2021, 15:40   #11
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shancz View Post
Core of this issue would lie in the logistics of making a particular model. Manufacturers won't prefer to break their production chain time and again based on individual orders. That's why their variants are placed to resemble the demand as close as possible. There is something for everyone rather than everything for everyone.
I would say this could be pushed down to the dealer level. Install these items later on rather than the time of manufacturing. Would probably push the delivery date by a week, I wouldn't mind waiting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shancz View Post
I have driven both rear discs and drums in cars and honestly I couldn't feel the difference but that being said I am also an average driver so that could be it.
I'm a convert after buying a disc brake bicycle! I thought it'll carry over to cars as well. Maybe I'm wrong in assuming this then
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Old 25th January 2021, 15:57   #12
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosfactor View Post
Salesman : Sir we have newly introduced a safety pack for this model, would you like to go for it?

Imagine the customer`s mind now, he must be thinking that its a badly designed vehicle that now needs a separate safety pack while the competitors are offering safety as standard.

Toyota did try selling a safety pack once in Etios - I guess they realized quickly that its not the same as Alloy wheels.
Hahaha, this reminded me of my idiocracy few years ago. I went for lower trim on etios liva as I didn't feel those safety features were necessary at that time. It's been 8 years since then and my perception of risk has majorly changed.
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Old 25th January 2021, 16:09   #13
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zapstar View Post
I would say this could be pushed down to the dealer level. Install these items later on rather than the time of manufacturing.

I'm a convert after buying a disc brake bicycle! I thought it'll carry over to cars as well. Maybe I'm wrong in assuming this then
That's a big No. I will be glad the day all dealers are able to successfully service and rectify the regular issues that come up let alone install any safety kit. Not just about the varying levels of competency and QC but also the attitudes and manufacturers know this. Also if it fails due to incorrect fitment who will be responsible ? see the issues
Dealers are already installing the non-critical stuff, the accessories.

Critical/internal features like airbags should always be installed at the factory. There is a reason "factory finish" is a thing. Any critical/internal additions need you think through all the dependencies and cautions that might incur before making a change. And that needs strict QC and supervision, hence the factory

On two wheelers it makes sense since we have just 2 wheels and brake feel is direct.
My RTR180(rear disc, non abs) is a good example. It lets me brake much later into a turn before it locks up as compared to a drum especially over non-ideal roads. The brake feel and control is excellent.
But with ABS I am not sure how the behaviour has changed since I haven't ridden any drum-ABS combination.

On cars, we have twice the wheels and the feel would be managed by the brake booster.
But to me the biggest advantage discs would have is when going through water deep enough to get in your brake-drums in that case discs rule. But even if you have drums the front discs are capable enough in that situation but use caution.

All this while keeping in mind that if there is an option to get all discs, go for it. But if it isn't don't worry about it, you are still fine.

Last edited by shancz : 25th January 2021 at 16:21. Reason: updated content
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Old 25th January 2021, 16:19   #14
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Default re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

This discussion is reminding me of an incident mentioned in Lee Iacocca's biography.

From the top of my head:
Once Ford decided to go with the safety angle one year. This is from before the time, when seat belts were mandatory.
Keeping with the theme, Ford offered seat belts as the standard feature in that year's cars. Shockingly, this led in a massive dip in sales. After talking to people who came into the showroom but left empty handed, they realised their marketing strategy had horribly backfired. The presence of seat belts gave the impression that Ford cars were unsafe!

Needless to say Ford took corrective measures and ditched the seat belts.
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Old 26th January 2021, 09:09   #15
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Default Re: Why are safety packs not a thing in India?

Great question! Two points:

- The marketing head of a car company once told me that safety-conscious customers are also less price sensitive. Research indicated that they will pay more for safety. Offering it only on the top variant is a way to extract the maximum money from them.

- Maruti offered ABS as an add-on at one time. I don't remember the exact percentage, but less than 10% of customers (I think it was like 2% or so) paid the extra 20,000 rupees or so for the ABS variant.

The unfortunate truth is, safety doesn't sell in India. You'll be surprised to know its the same in the USA, even with enthusiasts (see some of the shocking comments here). IMHO, Europeans are the most safety-conscious lot in the world. No surprise then, that it is European cars that are also the safest in the world.
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