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Sitting safe, driving comfortably

On the way to work this morning I felt really comfortable sitting in my car. The ergonomic design of my car makes driving a pleasure, but this wasn't the reason why I was feeling comfortable. Was it because I was listening to Prince on the drive into the office? No.

The answer is simple. I felt safe. Safe because the car I was driving was a safe car. A car that has been put through tests by independent experts to make sure it adhered to minimum safety standards. But there's more. Meeting minimum safety standards isn't the end goal for automakers in Europe. They want customers to know that their models are amongst the best in class. This creates a competitive, transparent market, where safety information is in the public domain.

It is not the same everywhere. Not every person has the same opportunities as me to drive a safe car as standard and feel comfortable.

A new piece of research by safety charity Global NCAP, which promotes and conducts independent research and testing programmes to assess the safety and environmental characteristics of cars, shone a bright safety light on some of India's most popular and new models.

The results make uncomfortable reading. The Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Mahindra Scorpio and Hyundai Eon all showed low levels of adult occupant protection.

As an illustration: the Kwid was tested in three versions, including one with airbags, but each was rated as zero star for adult safety. Renault came in for criticism from David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP.

“The latest SaferCarsforIndia results show how important it is for cars to have a body shell that can remain stable in a crash. This is an absolutely crucial pre-requisite for occupant safety together with fitment at least of front air bags. It is surprising that a manufacturer like Renault introduced the Kwid initially lacking this essential feature," he said.

I imagine that Ward's comments made Renault executives feel rather uncomfortable. He didn't stop there. "Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard."

What do you think? Should there be minimum global standards that automaker should adhere too? What should they be and how would they be enforced? There are a couple of other points for the fleet community to think about here too

Firstly, in emerging markets, fleet leaders struggle to get information. So independent testing from reputable bodies has a value in our fleet decision making. This data is worth sharing with colleagues around the world about anything to do with cars in that market has a value. http://www.globalncap.org/zero-stars-for-all-cars-in-latest-global-ncap-crash-tests/">Here's the link to share with your fleet colleagues working in India.

Secondly, this time it is a question, should we, as a fleet community, be pressing manufacturers to sign up to minimum voluntary safety standards? A tough questions, but safety is a tough issue.

Let me know what you think !

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Steven Schoefs
Nexus Communication - Chief Editor - Fleet Europe

For the past three years Steven Schoefs has been Editor in Chief of Fleet Europe. In this role he is responsible for the editorial content Fleet Europe's magazine, its website www.fleeteurope.com and the annual Fleet Europe Forum & Awards, the platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge among decision makers and peers in the fleet industry, held at a different location in Europe each year, and attracting over 500 fleet managers, owners, experts and others with an interest in fleet At the heart of his editorial philosophy is the quality of content and the search for new fleet management developments and trends, whether it is in terms of product, services, legislation, mobility issues or market evolutions. Steven also coordinates the International Fleet Managers' Institute (IFMI), a platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge among peers in the fleet industry. He is also involved in strategic and budget issues and for managing the team of company and freelance journalists. Steven has always worked very closely with Caroline Thonnon, the Business Development Director and herself a recognised authority on the fleet business.

Steven Schoefs blog will focus on key trends and developments within the European fleet market and the automotive market, as well as on the evolving role of the international fleet manager.

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