The base version of the Renault Duster (with no airbags) was put to test in the second round of Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) tests under the #SaferCarsForIndia initiative. The SUV scored a zero rating for adult occupant protection in the Global NCAP results, triggering speculations about Renault’s concern for the safety of its users. However, for rear-seat child occupant protection, it managed to get 2 stars. The absence of airbags in the base trim puts the driver at a high risk of getting injured. This is the second round of crash tests. The first one saw the Chevrolet Enjoy and the Ford Aspire being crash tested.
When a similar test was done on the same Duster with an optional airbag, it scored 3 stars, while the rating for child protection remained the same. Surprisingly, the same airbag-equipped car scored a good 4 stars in the Latin American tests conducted in 2015.
On investigation, the global NCAP officials found out that the Indian Duster was fitted with a smaller airbag while the Latin version had a bigger one. The bigger size covered the head and the chest area of the driver completely, whereas, the reduction in size of the Indian version’s airbags makes the driver more vulnerable to injuries. Due to the small airbag, the head of the driver is likely to hit the steering while the bigger one covered it completely, even during maximum front impact.
On the Duster attaining zero ratings, Renault said in a statement, “Safety is of paramount importance for Renault and all our products meet and exceed the requisite safety standards set by Indian Regulatory Authorities. India is gradually moving towards international safety norms by including more robust safety regulations and the assurance of the Bharat NCAP is a positive step in this direction. As a customer-focused company, Renault fully supports this initiative and we are already future-ready in terms of technology, design and engineering for enhanced safety for all our vehicles. Indian Government has announced that the crash test regulation for the existing cars will come into effect in 2019 and for the new cars in 2017. Renault fully supports this.”
With SUVs usually running at high speeds on highways, they need to be better equipped - at least with an airbag as standard. On a more positive note and to deal with such instances, the Indian government is going to bring in tougher safety norms for automobiles from October this year, which will pressurise carmakers to develop similar safer vehicles that they ship to other foreign markets.