Belgium-based crash test agency Euro NCAP has given a single star safety rating to Bajaj Qute, a four-seater quadricycle exported by it to Europe from India.
The Qute scored poorly in the tests due to absence of driver or passenger airbags. Further the structure of the Qute was judged to be unstable in the frontal test even a side impact detached the door from the A-pillar.
Many spot welds had released and deformation of the structure indicated that it could not have withstood a higher degree of loading, stated the test result.
Euro NCAP Secretary General, Michiel van Ratingen, said "It is disappointing to see that quadricycles are still lacking basic safety features that are common in small cars. By not challenging the manufacturers to do more, legislators continue to give a false impression to consumers that these vehicles are fit for purpose."
"In our maiden effort, we have created in Qute a quadricycle that is in the same league as European benchmarks. But also one that fares better than many international cars, in their category. We believe that's why Qute has had a good reception in about 20 markets," a Bajaj Auto spokesperson said.
Last year when Pune-based Bajaj Auto announced its intentions of launching the Qute in 16 countries including in Europe it also said that the Qute met the stringent European quadricycle norms and that it had also acquired European WVTA (Whole Vehicle Type Approval) certification awarded by RDW Netherlands.
Quadricycles are not allowed to be sold in India despite getting the go-ahead from the government. Several public interest litigations against the launch has prevented Bajaj from launching the Qute in India. The Qute is to be run as a commercial passenger carrier for intra-city transport.
"Quadricycles are still not subject to the same legislation as passenger cars. Nevertheless, these vehicles look like small city cars and are likely to compete for sales. However, their performance in Euro NCAP's tests is far below a similarly-sized passenger car which can be bought second-hand more cheaply," added the Euro Ncap report.
Qute was one amongst four quadricycles (Aixam Crossover GTR, Chatenet CH30 and Microcar M.GO Family) by the agency. Only the Chatenet CH30 secured a two star rating while the other three got only one star even as the Microcar is fitted with a driver airbag.
"The standard of protection offered to the driver is still generally very low, leading to serious risks in collisions with other vehicles or obstacles," the agency observed following the tests.
Ward, Director General of Global NCAP said, Euro NCAP and Global NCAP are working in partnership to help draw policymaker and consumer attention to this category of badly performing and poorly regulated vehicles.
Quadricycles have significant potential for sales in markets across the world and it's essential that minimum safety standards are put in place and that consumers are made aware of their safety shortcomings, especially when compared with similarly sized passenger cars.