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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Bajaj Auto accused of misleading consumers about safety of Qute


Bajaj Auto accused of misleading consumers about safety of Qute

Today, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) released safety ratings for the RE60 Qute, the first Indian-made ‘quadricycle’ manufactured by Bajaj Auto Ltd. Scoring only one out of a possible five stars, the Qute did not fare well. 

In fact, according to Euro NCAP, drivers of the Qute face “serious risks in collisions with other vehicles or obstacles”.This flies in the face of public statements the manufacturer has made about the quadricycle’s safety. 

Consumers Association of India (CAI) is calling on Bajaj to go back to the drawing board and produce a safe vehicle, rather than misleading and endangering consumers with false claims.

Quadricycles, a category of vehicle defined as light-weight, four-wheeled and with small engines, have been in circulation in Europe for years, though they have remained a somewhat niche product. 

Although often identical in appearance to small cars, they do not have to comply with the same safety standards. After a number of years in development, in 2015 Bajaj Auto officially unveiled India’s first quadricycle, in the hope of attracting urban dwellers looking to trade up their motorcycles, or in search of a cheaper alternative to traditional small cars. 

However, despite officially launching, the Qute is yet to hit Indian city roads after public interest litigations were filed in various state courts, challenging the strength of new government safety standards that would apply to the new vehicle class. The legal wrangling resulted last year in a stay on introducing this new type of vehicle in India, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court while it considers the issue.

Bajaj responded to these events by launching a major publicity blitz to “free the Qute”, highlighting the vehicle’s supposed safety credentials to counter concerns. However, today’s less than glowing endorsement by a leading safety agency casts a number of doubts about these claims. For example, in one advertorial, Bajaj Auto claims that the Qute is “perhaps the safest…4-wheeler anywhere in the world”. In addition, the ‘Free the Qute’ website states that the “Qute is truly the safest vehicle for everybody on city roads”.

According to Consumers Association of India (CAI), Euro NCAP’s crash test results have unequivocally disproved these claims. By misleading consumers in this way, Bajaj have violated consumers’ fundamental right to the facts they need to make informed choices. 

Not only that, the company is putting lives at risk, and introducing the Qute in its current form would only add to the already tragic death toll on Indian roads. Consumers Association of India (CAI) and other consumer organizations will be writing to Rajiv Bajaj, the company’s Managing Director, this week to urge him to remove all claims about the Qute’s safety from websites and other corporate communications, and to re-design the quadricycle so that it offers real protection to consumers.

Ms. Swathy Satyamurti, Director Projects, Consumers Association of India said, “we will be writing to Bajaj to ask them to remove all misleading statements from public sphere and not to make any more false claims, and instead to re-design the Qute with enhanced safety features.  Bajaj must also re-submit the Qute for independent crash testing, and not begin selling the vehicle to consumers until it has received a clean bill of health.

Bajaj has also highlighted that the Qute is already on sale in Europe (Turkey, to be precise), having met mandatory European safety requirements. However, [your organisation] believes it is misleading to imply that this means the vehicle is safe. Euro NCAP has tested eight models of quadricycle since 2014, and while all these vehicles were found to comply with European legislation, none of them scored more than two out of five stars. 

Indeed, this growing body of evidence has led Euro NCAP to call for a regulatory overhaul in Europe.

With interest in quadricycles growing in a number of countries, experts are also calling for new international standards to be developed for this vehicle segment.  David Ward, Director General of Global NCAP said, “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.We will be urging action on quadricycle safety through effective regulation in the UN World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations.”

India has the world’s worst road safety record. It is therefore important to create awareness among consumers about crash test results in order to promote a culture of safety in vehicles. Please visit www.caiindia.org to learn more about our activities.

Euro NCAP test results.
Full details of the Euro NCAP crash tests, including pictures and video, are available atwww.euroncap.com

The Qute’s crash test report: 


Video of the Qute being crash tested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfJpqdl2tX0


“Free the Qute”
The “Free the Qute” website makes a number of safety claims:
The Qute is “perhaps the safest…4-wheeler anywhere in the world”
‘Made in India. Sold in EUROPE!’ advertorial http://www.freethequte.in/bajajqute/layout/img/newsroom/newsroom-tab.jpg

The “Qute is truly the safest vehicle for everybody on city roads”

The Qute has been “rigorously tested…for structural durability”‘Free the Qute’ website [retrieved 31 March 2015] http://www.freethequte.in/bajajqute/occupants-safety.php

Further public statements from Bajaj spokespeople can be found at:

About Euro NCAP

Euro NCAP organizes crash tests on new vehicles and provides motoring consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. 

Established in 1997 and backed by several European Governments, motoring, consumer and insurance organizations, Euro NCAP has rapidly become a catalyst for encouraging significant safety improvements to new car 
design. 


About Global NCAP

Global NCAP is an independent UK registered charity serving as the global platform for new car assessment programmes worldwide. Global NCAP has consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC), is a member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety. Global NCAP supports the UN Global Goals and Decade of Action for Road Safety. 

The crash testing of quadricycles has been made possible through funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Visit Global NCAP’s website: www.globalncap.org

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Somasundaram
Liaison Officer
Consumers Association of India
3/242, Rajendra Gardens, Vettuvankeni, Chennai 600115

Phone: 044-2449-4575/73
Bajaj Auto accused of misleading consumers about safety of Qute Reviewed by S. Chitra on April 07, 2016 Rating: 5 Bajaj Auto accused of misleading consumers about safety of Qute Today, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) released...

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