India is set to join the group of matured global automotive markets with its own new car assessment programme. It is likely to be called Bharat NCAP.
Earlier, Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme (BNVSAP) was the working name. “BNVSAP is like a tongue twister!” says an official who’s involved in designing the Bharat NCAP framework. According to Abhay Damle, joint secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), the details of Bharat NCAP are expected to be finalised in a week and be made public in the next 10 days.
“Bharat NCAP will be more broad-based than any other NCAP at the time of introduction. It is proposed that the features of the programme will remain same for some time,” commented AV Mannikar, senior deputy director, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) during a presentation at the Indian Automobile Safety Conference co-hosted by Institute of Road Traffic Management and Global NCAP.
Bharat NCAP will initially be voluntary. Given that India has a huge population of two- and three-wheelers, the safety rating may also include these vehicles. “We have more fatalities in two- and three-wheelers,” says Mannikar.
The proposed speed for offset frontal crash testing vehicles under Bharat NCAP is 56 kph. That is lesser than Global NCAP’s proposal of 64 kph. The global watchdog’s argument is that crash testing a vehicle at 64 kph is equivalent to two vehicles travelling at 55 kph and colliding against each other. A mandatory speed warning feature for all vehicles is also proposed under Bharat NCAP.
Balraj Bhanot, former director of ARAI and chairman, CMVR – technical standing committee, MoRTH says that along with a new framework for safety, there should also be a strong focus on enforcing existing rules to ensure that vehicles are maintained well and that they run safely. He also debated that there should be a strict system for defining the end of life of a vehicle.
Global NCAP’s secretary General David Ward feels that government intervention is crucial to make roads safer. “Government can promote safer cars by giving short term fiscal incentives for safety technologies,” says Ward.
It is also to be noted that India will have a reworked motor vehicle act. Union minister for road transport & highways, Nitin Gadkari says that it is in the final stages and will be tabled in the next session of the parliament. Gadkari has been batting for safer roads, not only through safer driving but also through properly designed roads. He also shared that along with advanced safety automotive technologies in India, there should also be a strong focus on containing costs as affordability levels in India are significantly different than other automotive markets of the West. That may also be a message for players in the automotive industry as they prepare for a new phase in India, in terms of safety as well as emission norms.