Get App
Last Updated : Jan 25, 2020 03:34 PM IST | Source:

This week in Auto: Safety finally takes centre stage in Indian cars; Bajaj-Triumph sub-Rs 2 lakh bike out by 2022

Here is a look at all the top auto stories of the week

Not so long ago, cars developed in and for India had a poor safety recall across the world. Some car makers like Volkswagen, Ford and Honda even refused to enter such budget, high volume segments only because these cars could never comply with safety norms. Two Indian carmakers, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra managed to score the best crash test safety rating there is in the world, leaving their global peers far behind. More on this later in the article, but here is a look at all the top auto stories of the week.

Bajaj, Triumph join hands to challenge Royal Enfield

Bajaj Auto and Triumph Motorcycles have started developing new mid-capacity motorcycles priced below Rs 2 lakh. They will be launched in 2022 to challenge the dominance of the heavyweight Royal Enfield.

The Indo-British collaboration will explore the 200-750cc bike category to offer multiple product options across different segments. Eicher Motors-controlled Royal Enfield is looking for a world-wide dominance in the same segment.

MG launches ZS EV at Rs 19.88 lakh

British auto brand MG Motor on January 23 launched its first fully electric car ZS EV in India at Rs 19.88 lakh (Excite variant), promising a driving range of 340 km on a full charge.

The SAIC-owned brand has reportedly sold out the first lot of ZS earmarked for India, wherein it has accepted 2,800 booking requests. However the company will deliver 2,409 units and is not accepting any further bookings of the sports utility vehicle. Anybody booking the car now will have to pay an additional Rs 1 lakh.

Tata Motors launches Altroz at Rs 5.29 lakh

Tata Motors on January 22 launched the premium hatchback Altroz at a starting price of Rs 5.29 lakh (ex-showroom), undercutting segment leader Maruti Baleno, which is priced at Rs 5.58 lakh.

The diesel version of Altroz is priced at Rs 6.99 lakh. The top-end variant of petrol model is priced at Rs 7.69 lakh while the diesel version is priced at Rs 9.29 lakh. Overall, there will be five variants of the hatchback on offer in addition to four customisation packs.

Mahindra may inject more funds into Ssangyong

Sports utility vehicle specialist Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) may be looking at injecting more funds into SsangYong Motor Company (SYMC), the South Korean subsidiary, to help it return to profitability.

The Mumbai-headquartered company is said to be considering a capital injection of 500 billion Won ($430 million) in SYMC by 2022 to secure its turnaround, industry sources told Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Hyundai launches Aura at Rs 5.82 lakh

Hyundai Motor India has launched the compact sedan Aura at Rs 5.79 lakh (manual petrol base variant) pitting it directly against the segment leader Maruti Suzuki Dzire which is priced at Rs 5.82 lakh.

The Aura, successor to the Xcent, will be available with three engines and three fuel options (petrol, diesel and CNG). It will be the only compact sedan in India to be equipped with a BS-VI Diesel engine. The base diesel version is priced at Rs 7.73 lakh.

GST reduction tops demand list from Budget 2020

Reduction in the Goods & Services Tax (GST) tops the budget wish-list of the beleaguered automobile industry. Last year, the industry recorded its worst-ever sales decline in two decades as a variety of factors spooked the retail buyer despite manufacturers offering never-seen-before discounts.

Multiple hikes in insurance premiums, safety-related regulatory changes, easing axle load norms, fuel price hikes, lending crisis in the NBFC space, uncertainty over the future of BS-IV vehicles and tighter lending norms by banks are some of the reasons why auto demand has remained subdued for several quarters.

Safety takes centre stage on cars, finally

Last year India got its first Global NCAP five-star safety rated compact car in the form of the Tata Nexon. This came at a time when India, the largest compact car market in the world, does not have a formal new car assessment programme of its own. Bharat NCAP is on the lines of some of the developed markets of the US and Europe.

A few months later, two more models – Tata Altroz and Mahindra XUV300 – scored five star ratings on Global NCAP. Not only are all the three models new in the market, but they were also designed and engineered by Indian engineers.

So far, none of the other big names such as Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda or Toyota have succeeded in putting out a compact car that has scored a five star rating for safety in the same tests, even for those which are new in the market.

For instance the all-new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, that debuted in 2019, scored a two star safety rating for adult and child occupants. The results may sound alarming because the ‘tall-boy’ car is built on a new platform and is one of India’s top five best-sellers.

"Driver and passenger’s chest showed weak protection while knees showed marginal protection. The bodyshell was rated as unstable and it was not capable of withstanding further loadings", Global NCAP stated in its report on the new Wagon R tested in 2019.

Similarly Wagon R rival Hyundai Santro landed two star safety rating on the same test in the same year. The test results were nearly identical to the Wagon R, a report from GNCAP highlighted.

It was only five years ago that Indian cars were panned for being unsafe. By early 2014, Global NCAP had crash tested about a dozen cars in its UK-based facility. These included Mahindra Scorpio, Maruti Celerio, Hyundai Eon, Renault Kwid, Renault Lodgy, Maruti Eeco, Mahindra Xylo, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen Polo, Maruti Alto 800, Ford Figo and Tata Nano.

Each of these cars failed the tests before being severely criticised by Global NCAP. The agency urged the Indian government to adopt the best safety regulations there are to cut down vehicle-related fatalities.

So what has changed in recent years?

Besides several structural upgradations made to the vehicle itself, car makers now offer airbags, sensors, advanced braking system as a standard on all variants. Before 2018, these basic safety features were offered as an option. This was possible because of a government regulation which mandates installation of these features on every car sold in India.

However, it is also noteworthy that the cars crash tested by Global NCAP some years ago were bought randomly from India before shipping them to the UK. In other words, they were not ‘selected’ for crash testing. On the other hand the testing carried out in recent cars, that clocked five star ratings, were not picked randomly.

But having the lead with them Indian car makers are pushing the envelope even higher. Tata Motors, which once had clocked zero stars for the now-history Nano, reported four star rating for the Tiago and Tigor models.

Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors said, “The first revolution was air conditioning, next was automatic transmission, and third will be safety.”

Exclusive offer: Use code "BUDGET2020" and get Moneycontrol Pro's Subscription for as little as Rs 333/- for the first year.

First Published on Jan 25, 2020 03:34 pm
Follow us on