As safety increasingly, and deservedly, takes higher positiioning in the Indian passenger vehicle consumer's mindset and becomes a key consideration during a new car purchase, having an air-equipped model has been the most basic upgrade for Indians in terms of vehicle safety. This comes after graduating from active safety systems like ABS, which was made mandatory in April 2019.
The government's relentless drive on improving road and vehicle safety in India has also seen dual airbags getting mandatory for all new car models starting April 2021, and now also slated for existing models from later this year in December.
While a majority of the mass-market vehicles in the passenger vehicle segment now offer dual airbags, we take a look at all the options with six airbags or more, in this highly competitive and meaty segment.
The graphic above provides a list of products from leading vehicle manufacturers in India with an airbag count of six or more in the sub-Rs 40 lakh range, ex-showroom.
It is worth mentioning that products like the brand-new Mahindra XUV700, Toyota Yaris, Innova Crysta, Fortuner and Ford Endeavour (highlighted in yellow) go a step further and offer 7 SRS airbags. The Skoda Superb, on the other hand, gets 8 airbags in total.
Recenty, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, urged manufacturers to up the safety quotient in their passenger vehicles for India and aim to roll out six airbags as a standard feature.
However, the higher cost of acquisition of a vehicle today due to the many upgrades in safety and emission regulations over the last few years, is also developing into a growing concern. The next incremental steps in terms of improving vehicle safety need to be weighed well in the Indian context where the car population is still less than two cars to a 1,000 people, compared to over 28 in the West.
More technology-led safety systems such as electronic stability control (ESC), are set to become mandatory in cars by 2023, and the step to offer six airbags by the above- listed manufacturers could go a long way in creating a competitive environment in the Indian passenger vehicle market that is heading towards maturity and thereby enhancing the safety quotient.
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