Nine of the 15 models that car market leader Maruti Suzuki sells in India meet crash test norms, which will be made compulsory in the country on October 1, 2019.
Two of its hatchback models are undergoing a complete overhaul, which would help the company meet the new norms before the deadline.
However, there remains a question mark over the Eeco and Omni models, on whether they would be upgraded to meet the norms given their susceptible design. The architecture of both models is over eight years old. Moreover, the Eeco was given a zero star rating in Global NCAP crash test conducted in 2016.
Talking to Moneycontrol CV Raman, Executive Director (engineering), Maruti Suzuki India said, “We are working into this. We need to meet both the emission and safety norms. So we are evaluating various possibilities for all the models. Definitely our endeavor will be to make them (Omni and Eeco) meet (the norms). So the engineering work in going on for that.”
Both Omni and Eeco are crucial for the company's sales volumes as together they generate between 12,000-13,000 units a month or 10 percent of its total monthly domestic volumes. Both models - that come in 5, 7 and 8-seater variants - are popular in cities as well as rural and semi urban markets.
They are preferred as taxis especially in metros due to their low maintenance costs and high carrying capacity, and are popular among large families from hinterlands.
As far as the crash test standards are concerned, India will have norms for full frontal impact, offset frontal impact and lateral or side impact norms to be adhered by all new cars by October 1, 2019.
Pedestrian protection safety norm for new models will come into effect on October 1, 2018, while for existing models it has been set as October 1, 2020. In Maruti’s range, the cars that already meet the norms include Swift, Dzire, Celerio, Ertiga, Brezza, Ciaz, Baleno, Ignis and the S-Cross.
Besides crash test norms, all cars will have to meet the Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norms as well, which will kick in on April 1, 2020.
Maruti Suzuki is currently working on a new generation Alto that would provide the first major upgrade to the mini car in several years. While the company has not announced any dates with regards to the launch of the upgraded model, the market expects to see it in 2019. The Alto is the second-largest brand sold in India after the Dzire making up 15 percent of its volumes.
There will be an all-new Wagon R slated for launch later this year which will be based on a new platform making it lighter and safer. The boxy hatchback, which is the fourth-highest seller in the country will most likely meet the crash test norms.