Tata Nexon crash test: Time to bet on safety

The recent Tata Nexon crash test.

Tata Nexon recently created history by becoming the first Indian car to get the highest five-star safety rating from Global New Car Assessment Programme (G-NCAP) receiving congratulations from across the country. Not only that, with the achievement, Tata proved to the world that an Indian manufacturer is capable of making one of the safest cars in the world that, too, in India. But, is a five-star rated car that safe to be exploited to the maximum and can it save lives in adverse conditions? News Today researches to find out.

To start with, in October, this year, Euro NCAP, a part of G-NCAP, and UK-based Thatcham Research, found airbags and isofix points printed ‘Euro NCAP only’ or ‘for crash test only’ in several cars sent by manufacturers for testing which indirectly meant many manufacturers were sending cars with specially-built components to these organisations defeating the entire purpose of crash tests. Not only that, when they have forgotten even to remove such prints, needless to say about the extent to which they would have gone to prepare these cars to score well.

Secondly, G-NCAP says that if a five-star rated car crashes at 64 kmph, it will safeguard its occupants which has also been proved to be true. But the testing body has hardly opened up about how much the safety decreases when the crashing speed exceeds 64 kmph. This is because such an assessment will prove entire crash tests useless as cars’ safety deteriorate in geometric progression with every kmph increase in crashing speed.

For example, if a five-star rated Nexon crashes into a stationary object at NCAP’s recommended speed of 64 kmph, its momentum at that time will be 23,229 kgm/s considering Nexon’s kerb weight is 1,305 kg. But, during a crash, no one knows what might be the crashing speed. So, if the car’s crashing speed is raised by 5 kmph, we will be surprised. Its momentum at the crashing speed of 69 kmph will be 24,925 kgm/s. We can see for a mere 5 kmph increase in crashing speed, Nexon’s crashing momentum increases by 1,696 kgm/s questioning its safety.

Not only momentum, there are many other factors like kinetic energy which witness drastic change with increase in crashing speed. Accidents are not predetermined and it’s injustice to assume that cars can brake to 64 kmph before a crash.

Thirdly, almost all testing organisations refrain from testing the rear impact safety of cars. They claim that severe rear collisions are relatively rare and usually involve being struck by a much larger vehicle. But, is there any point in bragging about owning a five-star rated car whose crash worthiness in the rear is unknown? Also, in hatchbacks, only sheets of metal and a seat protect the rear occupants from the outside world. What if a five-star rated hatchback is sandwiched between cars?

These are some of the aspects which might deter us from believing crash test results of cars. Nevertheless, we have to admit the fact that cars with better results are surely safer. But, when it comes protection during accidents, sticking to traffic rules and driving at lower speeds are, indeed, the better deal-breakers.

LAME EXCUSE?

When NCAP officials questioned car makers for the prints, they mostly got a reply that the batch of cars were ordered internally by the safety departments and they sometimes use ‘Euro NCAP’ as a reference, as deadlines were tight and production slots cannot be missed.

FOR INDIA

While, all this time, Indians relied on international testing organisations, they will soon be having one from their own country. Yes, the Central government’s Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme (BNVSAP) will test Indian cars for their safety from 2020. It will be implemented in phases and will be the 10th NCAP in the world.

S Ben Raja