Warning! Buying a car? Check whether it's a 4-seater or a 5-seater." This is how Hyundai Motor India's latest advertisement reads as it takes on unnamed competitors on the certified seating capacity of its Santro. According to the Hyundai advertisement, the Santro has been certified by the Automotive Research Association of India to have a seating capacity for five persons, including the driver. "Some of our well known competitors, however, are allowed to carry only four persons, including the driver," proclaims the advertisement and goes on to warn prospective car buyers that carrying more persons in such cars "would be a violation of the law".
While the advertisement has not mentioned any company or model by name, automobile industry sources say that it is mainly targeted at Maruti Udyog, more specifically the Wagon R, which is the main competitor for the Santro.
According to Maruti dealers, the WagonR has been certified to seat four persons, including the driver. This could be because the WagonR has split seats at the rear and hence has seat belt points for two persons.
However, when contacted, officials in Maruti Udyog were not unduly worried about the advertisement.
Automobile industry sources said that the seating capacity of a car was certified by the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) based on the Central Motor Vehicle Rules and after considering the various aspects such as dimension and safety aspects, when a vehicle was sent for homologation.
When contacted, a top official in ARAI would not disclose the car models that had been certified for seating five persons and for four persons. The ARAI went into aspects such as lay-out and dimension before certifying the seating capacity of a car, he said.