Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen have been proactive in equipping safety features on their vehicles with both companies offering airbags right from the base variant of their entry-level models.
Auto manufacturers have been flouting safety norms for quite some time now on the pretext of following Indian safety regulations which as we all know are outdated beyond belief. Nevertheless, the dramatic attention towards vehicular safety in recent times has been taken seriously by a few automakers while the rest continue to ignore the same. Case in point being Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota, three of the biggest names in the auto sector that now offer airbags right from the base variants.
More recently, Toyota omitted the stereo system from its entry-level Liva hatchback in favour of installing airbags. It does not take much effort to understand which feature needs to be the priority here. Volkswagen has been proactive with the same and offers airbags on all variants of the Polo since last year while Ford is the only manufacturer to offer 6 airbags on new Figo hatchback, making it the safest car in its segment. In comparison, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Mahindra and Honda that contribute a major chunk of volumes in the four-wheeler space are far away in terms of offering basic safety features on their vehicles.
While Honda and Hyundai maintain their stand saying its vehicles comply with the Indian vehicle safety laws which do not mandate airbags, Maruti Suzuki blamed pedestrians and stray animals for the rising accidents and absence of safety features on its cars which according the company aren’t adequate. Tata Motors says to be working on improving the safety levels on its cars but missed out on providing ABS or airbags on the base variants of the new Zest and Bolt models. Clearly, higher profit margins triumph enhanced safety levels for some manufacturers in the country.
What is interesting is the fact that Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota aren’t volume spinners when compared to the rest, but are promoting the right features on their vehicles. Sure, Maruti does offer airbags on all trims of the S-Cross but the feature still remains relatively unheard of the entry-level Alto (optional on top-end trim), the world’s most selling vehicle. It now depends primarily on the customer as to which feature does he/she prioritise. Create enough demand and the manufacturers will have to listen to you. Also since the proposed stringent Indian safety norms are still half a decade away.