Zero stars in Global NCAP tests show some car makers still don’t prioritise safety

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The Kia Picanto was rated with zero stars.
The Kia Picanto was rated with zero stars.

Recently released independent crash test results from Global NCAP and Latin NCAP show that some car manufacturers are still producing cars with zero star safety ratings – apparently morally comfortable with their customers buying them and families travelling in them.

The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso has achieved a disappointing zero star rating in Global NCAP’s new round of #SaferCarsForIndia crash tests, published this week, while the Kia Picanto scored zero stars in a Latin NCAP test in October. The work of Global NCAP and its regional affiliates and campaigns is supported with core funding by the FIA Foundation.

The three models rated in the latest phase of testing were the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso, Hyundai Grand i10 Nios and Kia Seltos. Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model. The S-Presso was only fitted with a driver airbag as standard, while the other models offered both driver and passenger airbags as standard.

The range of results, from zero to three stars, highlights significant differences in adult occupant protection even in cars that meet minimum regulatory standards.

Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Global NCAP, said: “It is very disappointing that Maruti Suzuki, the manufacturer with the largest share of the Indian market, offers such low safety performance for Indian consumers. Domestic manufacturers like Mahindra and Tata have demonstrated high levels of safety and protection for their customers, both achieving five star performance. Surely it’s time for Maruti Suzuki to demonstrate this commitment to safety for its customers?”

In October 2020 the New Car Assessment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, Latin NCAP, released its first result under a new assessment protocol with a disappointing zero stars for the New Kia Picanto (Morning).

The Kia Picanto, produced in South Korea and equipped only with driver frontal airbag as standard, was rated with zero stars, achieving 0% in the Adult Occupant box, 29% in the Child Occupant Box, 51% in the Pedestrian protection Box and 7% in the Safety Assist Box. Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are not standard. Side body and head airbags are not available even as optional. The potential double front airbag as standard would not improve the score of the model as the Adult Occupant Protection box will still score below the minimum percentage to reach even one star.

The model was tested in frontal impact, side impact, whiplash and pedestrian protection. In the frontal impact both the driver and passengers chest were coloured red (poor protection) due to the high loads and structural instability. Side impact showed poor protection to the chest bringing the points for this test to zero. Whiplash test also showed poor protection to the neck. Side pole impact was not performed as the car does not offer side head protection as standard. The Picanto does not meet United Nations regulations on Pedestrian Protection.

Latin NCAP does not recommend to buy cars without ESC, pedestrian protection and side body and head airbags and cars of zero and one star performance.

Ricardo Morales, Latin NCAP Chairman said: “This first result of the year highlights once again the poor practices that some manufacturers are carrying out, offering vehicles with lower levels of safety and equipment in Latin America and the Caribbean compared to other regions of the world. It is unacceptable that the same manufacturer has this double standard. For this to stop happening, it is necessary for governments to promote an independent and transparent consumer information system as Latin NCAP and thus improve the safety levels of vehicles sold in the region”.

Latin NCAP recently marked its tenth anniversary, a decade in which it has demonstrated real impact in encouraging stronger safety design by car manufacturers in the region. As in India, the number of four and five star cars, offering significant safety protection to occupants, has grown significantly, providing real choice and transparency for consumers. The improvement in the performance of the majority of vehicles has further exposed the failures of those companies that still insist on inflicting sub-standard products to the market and onto the roads.