Global NCAP, based in London, tested basic-level cars that did not have airbags, although some more expensive models of the small cars do have airbags, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Front-end crash tests found occupants of some small cars -- such as the Alto, Nano and i10 -- risk injury or death if if an airbag deployed, the Journal said.
The tests found five models, representing 20 percent of the cars sold in India, flunked the crash test.
"India is now a major global market and production center for small cars, so it's worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America," said Max Mosley, chairman of Global NCAP in a statement. "Poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Indian consumers at risk."
The road fatality rate in India is 16.8 deaths per population of 100,000. The comparable figure for the United States is 10 per 100,000, and for Germany it is 4 per 100,000, the Journal reported.
More than 10 percent of the 1.24 million traffic fatalities around the world per year -- about 130,000 -- involve Indians.
The Times of India said the Volkswagen Polo, Tata Nano, Alto 800 and Hyundai i10 all failed the safety test based on United Nations standards.
The Ford Figo was the only model of small car tested that met the safety standard, the Times said.