Nissan giving Indian customers a raw deal with Datsun GO?
It may have received a lot of flak recently for the lack of safety features on its entry-level car Datsun GO, but an unfazed Japanese car major Nissan is planning to launch a seven-seater version, GO Plus, also without these features, in January.
In a crash test conducted by Global Ncap, the GO scored zero stars and was found to lack structural stability. The car is offered in India without features such as air bags and anti-skid braking system (ABS) even as option, unlike competitors such as Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 and Hyundai Eon. The testing agency later wrote to Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn urging him to sought withdraw the car.
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"The GO Plus would come as it is (without airbags and ABS) but it is just the same in Indonesia where it is already available," said Guillame Sicard, president of Indian operations at Nissan. "Safety is a very wide topic and the debate (on airbags and ABS) is very narrow. Customers of the GO had concerns after the crash test reports were made public but it gives us an opportunity to talk about some of the other safety features of the car. It has the best stopping time and road holding characteristics than other cars in the segment."
It appears that Indian consumers maybe getting a raw deal, as Datsun's cars in Russia have more safety features. The On-do sedan and the upcoming hatchback Mi-do in Russia are offered with dual airbags, ABS and even a brake assist system as standard features even though these are not mandatory there.
"It is a sedan so it caters to a different profile of consumer," Sicard said. "It is not a fair comparison. These features are not mandatory in India so the car is legal and without doubt it is safe."
The government is planning to make airbags and ABS mandatory on new cars from October 2015 and for existing cars subsequently from October 2017 after crash test facilities are ready by early next year.
Car makers have said they would comply with the norms once they are in force but have privately raised doubts about the deadline.
"Who will test the cars, where are the dummies?" said a senior official at one of the car companies. "Fixation about airbags and ABS is nonsense. It makes the occupants (in cars) a little more safe but they are safe anyway. The majority of those who die on the roads are pedestrians and two-wheeler riders. What happens to them?"