AUG-16: PUBLIC INTEREST
Bajaj quadricycle gets poor safety rating
False claims about the Qute mislead and endanger consumers
The first Indian-made â€˜quadricycleâ€™ manufactured by Bajaj Auto Ltd â€“Â RE60 Qute â€“ scored poorly in safety ratings released by European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). It scored only one star out of five possible stars. According to Euro NCAP, drivers of the Qute face â€œserious risks in collisions with other vehicles or obstaclesâ€. In fact, there is a likelihood of severe, even fatal, head and chest injuries.
This contradicts the public statements the manufacturer made about the quadricycleâ€™s safety. Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) feels that by misleading consumers in this way, Bajaj has violated consumersâ€™ fundamental right to make an informed choice. Not only that, the company is putting lives at risk.
Uday Mawani, CEO of CERC, said: â€œWe have written to Bajaj asking the company to remove all misleading statements from the public sphere, not to make any more false claims and instead to redesign the Qute with enhanced safety features.â€
Quadricycles are vehicles which are light-weight, four-wheeled, have small engines and look similar to small cars. Yet, they do not have to comply with the safety standards for small cars.
Bajaj had launched a major publicity blitz highlighting the vehicleâ€™s supposed safety credentials. For example, in one advertorial, Bajaj Auto claimed that the Qute is â€œperhaps the safestâ€¦4-wheeler anywhere in the worldâ€. In addition, the â€˜Free the Quteâ€™ website stated that the â€œQute is truly the safest vehicle for everybody on city roadsâ€.
The company has reacted strongly to Euro NCAPâ€™s comments saying it had a track record for integrity and performance. Also, the Qute’s safety rating was at par with several European quadricycles.
Bajaj Auto officially unveiled the Qute in 2015 but the vehicle is yet to hit Indian city roads. Â Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been filed in various state courts challenging the safety standards that would apply to the new vehicle class. As of now, the launch has been stayed. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court while it considers the issue.