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Quadricycle crash test snowballs into war of words

German car maker Volkswagen today jumped into the war of words over an issue relating to results of a crash test done on the Bajaj Qute, a quadricycle tested by Belgium-based agency Euro Ncap.  
Volkswagen today accused the Pune-based two and three-wheeler maker of spreading information that lacked merit, was misleading and incorrect about its premium hatchback Polo, which is sold in India.
Last Thursday Bajaj Auto said it was ‘delighted’ to receive the 1 star safety rating from Euro Ncap for its four seater Qute, compared to a zero star rating accorded to regular cars such as Volkswagen Polo, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, tested by Global Ncap two years ago.
“It is to bring to your notice that the information issued by Bajaj Auto Ltd. with reference to Volkswagen Polo NCAP rating is misleading, incorrect and without ‎merit. Please note on 31st Jan.2014 Volkswagen issued a press statement confirming 4-star Global NCAP rating (adult occupants) for its Polo carline in India”, said a VW India spokesperson.
Bajaj’s reaction to the crash test result drew sharp criticism from Global Ncap. In a letter addressed to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto on Friday David Ward, secretary general, Global Ncap said, “In press coverage of the Qute result I was surprised to read that a spokesman for Bajaj was reportedly ‘delighted’ with the one star score. It is was also very disappointing to read that Bajaj was also reported to be making comparisons between Global NCAP’s tests of Indian passenger cars suggesting that the Qute had performed better than cars with a zero star result.”
“To make such a comparison is misleading and wrong. The Euro NCAP quadricycle test uses a full frontal impact at 50 km/h whereas Global NCAP’s passenger car tests use a 40% overlap impact at 64 km/h. The latter is a much tougher test and should not be used as a relevant comparison”, Ward said.
The Qute was one among four quadricycles (Aixam Crossover GTR, Chatenet CH30 and Microcar M.GO Family) tested Euro Ncap. Only the Chatenet CH30 secured a two-star rating while the other three got only one star. The Microcar was the only vehicle fitted with a driver airbag.
The Bajaj-made quadricycle scored poorly in the tests due to absence of driver or passenger airbags. Its structure was judged unstable in the frontal test, as even a side impact detached the door from the A-pillar. Many spot welds had got released and deformation of the structure indicated it could not have withstood a higher degree of loading, as per the test results.
Bajaj Auto, however, followed up stating that it did not compare Qute test results with the regular cars as the intention was to communicate that Qute had done ‘relatively better’ in its tests than the respective cars did in their tests.
In a late evening media statement released by Bajaj Auto on Friday Rajiv Bajaj slammed Global Ncap stating “We would equally respectfully suggest that in the future Global Ncap reflect a little longer and exhibit greater maturity in drawing conclusions before venturing to cast unwarranted aspersion upon an organization that has a track record for integrity and performance as does Bajaj Auto”.
Introduced in October last year the Bajaj Qute clocked cumulative export sales of 334 units to 19 global markets including Russia, Turkey, Indonesia and Peru. The Pune-based maker of Pulsar and KTM motorcycles is ramping up capacity of Qute at the Waluj facility in Aurangabad to meet increased demand. The company is estimating total exports of 10,000 units of the Qute in this financial year.