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Indian Cars Fail Safety Test

India’s Tata Motors National Sales head, Ashesh Dhar poses with the new Tata Vista VX Tech, front, and Nano Twist during their launch in Hyderabad, India, Jan. 21, 2014.
A British car-safety watchdog says five of India's most popular cars have crumpled in independent crash tests.

The New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP, said the cars, including India's famously small Tata Nano, collapsed in the tests in ways that would likely lead to fatality or serous injury.

NCAP Director David Ward said the results do not surprise him.

"The unfortunate problem is that India lacks crash test standards, so not surprisingly, the cars have not done very well," he said. "All but one of them failed the basic U.N. test. And in the higher speed tests, the 64-kilometer [per] hour test, they scored zero stars."

The other cars tested were the best-selling Suzuki Maruti Alto 800, the Ford Figo, the Hyundai 110 and the Volkswagen Polo.

None of the tested cars had airbags as a standard feature.

NCAP's Ward said Indians are not aware of the value of a safety bag.

"An airbag, the individual airbag is almost certainly less than $50. That's well within the kind of taxation that people have to pay for a vehicle," he said. "If you explain to a family that the choice of having a vehicle with some airbags is the choice between your husband, your son, your daughter, surviving a crash, you know that's worth paying."

India has some of the deadliest roads in the world.

All five cars chosen were entry-level models, the kind a working class family might choose as its first car, rather than a more expensive version with additional options.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.