Mahindra responds to FIR about Scorpio airbags not deploying

After an FIR was filed against Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra and 12 others in Kanpur, Mahindra have officially released a statement saying there was nothing wrong with the car. We reported yesterday that the FIR was filed by a father after his son died in an accident. The complaint alleges that “false assurances” were made regarding the safety of the Mahindra Scorpio SUV that led to the death of the complainant’s son.

The case registered after Rajesh Mishra lost his son Dr Apoorv Mishra in an accident. The accident happened on January 14, 2022, after which Mishra approached a local court. The FIR was filed on the order of the court. The FIR also names the dealership manager, Anand Gopal Mahindra. The FIR has been registered in Raipurwa police station in Kanpur.

Mahindra officially says, “Mahindra & Mahindra would like to clarify with respect to an FIR that was filed on September 23, 2023. The case is over 18 months old, and the said incident happened in January 2022.

It was alleged that the vehicle did not have airbags. We would hence like to categorically reconfirm that the Scorpio S9 variant manufactured in 2020 did have airbags. We have investigated and there was no malfunction of the airbags. It was a rollover case which would not deploy the frontal airbags.

A detailed technical investigation was completed by our teams in October 2022.

The matter is currently sub judice and we are committed to cooperating with the authorities for any further investigation that is required. We completely empathise with the family and offer our deepest condolences to them in their grief.”

Why airbags would not open?

Airbags constitute a complex system that relies on a multitude of sensors to trigger deployment. Since airbags employ a small quantity of explosives, it is crucial that they deploy at the appropriate moment to ensure passenger safety within the vehicle.

Here are several reasons why airbags might not deploy after an accident, even if the occupants are wearing seatbelts:

Malfunctioning Accelerometer: Airbags operate based on information from the accelerometer. The vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) sends a signal when a sudden change in acceleration is detected, signifying an accident. This signal is generated only when a specific threshold of acceleration change is reached. If the change is not substantial enough, the airbags will not deploy. This is why airbags may not activate in low-speed accidents. It is plausible that the Mahindra XUV700 did not experience a significant acceleration change to trigger airbag deployment.

Secondary Impact: In cases where there are secondary impacts to a car after an initial crash, airbags may not deploy. To open the airbags, the car should be in optimal position. For example, in rollover crashes, the first impact may not be optimal for airbag deployment.

Unnecessary Airbag Deployment: In some cases, minor, low-impact collisions do not necessitate airbag deployment, as seatbelts alone are sufficient to protect passengers. In such situations, airbags remain inactive. However, this accident does not appear to be a low-impact collision.

Aftermarket Accessories: The installation of aftermarket accessories such as bullbars is now illegal in India. Bullbars can interfere with airbag sensors, preventing them from detecting a collision. Similarly, seat covers on vehicles equipped with side airbags can have the same effect. These accessories may also compromise passenger safety, as airbag deployment timing may not align correctly with the passenger’s body.

Airbag Malfunction: Airbags, being electronic devices, can experience failures. Instances of airbag failures have been reported in the past, even in high-end vehicles.

Hydroplaning or Aquaplaning: In cases of hydroplaning or aquaplaning, the vehicle’s accelerometer may become confused during the initial impact. This is due to the loss of traction caused by hydroplaning, which renders the vehicle’s sensors inoperative as they rely on wheel traction for proper functioning.

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