Automakers are offering discounts of almost Rs. 1 lakh on certain vehicles to make a sale, but will not offer safety features instead which cost almost half as much in the name of high costs.
A good discount can be a deciding factor for most if not all of our cost conscious buyers. A glance at the newspaper every morning will give you a detailed idea about the exorbitant discounts thrown by manufacturers throughout the year. However, what does come as surprising is the fact that automakers choose to give discounts on vehicles instead of offering safety features that would cost lesser than the discount itself. While, companies claim that higher costs as the reason for not including safety features on most vehicles, the discounts offered by these very same companies paints a completely different picture altogether.
Auto giants including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, General Motors among others offer dismal levels of safety equipment on most of their budget offerings. Infamous for failing crash tests, Maruti offers a discount of around Rs. 55,000/- on the entry-level Alto 800 that costs Rs. 2.8 lakhs and does not come with a single safety feature on the base variants. Moving a step further, the Ritz hatch has a similar story with discounts offered of Rs. 65,000/-, while safety features on the base variants is zilch. Even the base variants of the Hyundai Eon comes with no safety features, but gets a discount of Rs. 47,000/-, while GM offers a whopping discount of Rs. 95,000/- on the Beat that does not get even get a driver side airbag as standard.
In comparison, the addition of dual front airbags and ABS system will cost around Rs. 40,000/- per vehicle. Yes! The companies would prefer providing discounts rather than safety features that come at almost half the cost. Car dealerships offer a range of freebies including cash discounts, zero insurance, exchange and loyalty bonus as well as corporate discounts to lure buyers to showrooms. While it may seem that the discounts are offered by dealers alone, it is actually shared by the dealer and manufacturer, which makes the latter more liable to offer safety features.
While certain car makers have been vocal about bringing safety features to their vehicles, very few have actually been functional in doing so. In fact, most automakers have been against the need of bringing safety features to vehicles at present stating the Indian road conditions and speeds are still not up to the mark in order to mandate such features. Automakers have also stated that mandatory inclusion of safety features will increase product prices and slow down demand.
Experts though, seem to think otherwise. The cost of airbags and ABS on a vehicle can be reduced from the current Rs. 40,000/- if companies implement the same on all vehicles and reap benefits of mass production. Clearly, automakers cannot make a trade-off between sales and safety features. While it may be good business sense to provide discounts for higher sales, the same does not come as logical in reality. While developed markets are moving on to more advanced safety systems being standardized across vehicles, it is clearly exploitation on part of car makers to keep customers away from the most basic safety features.