Government to refrain from making six airbags mandatory in cars
While the six-airbag mandate was deferred by 12 months to October 2023, the upcoming BNCAP voluntary crash test protocols are likely to push car manufacturers to offer six airbags to achieve a 5-star safety rating.
The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Nitin Gadkari, has announced that there is no need to mandate six airbags in cars after the implementation of the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme or BNCAP protocols.
The BNCAP regime, which is slated to come into effect on October 1, 2023, demands six airbags as a basic requirement for a car to be eligible for testing for a 4- / 5-star crash score. The protocols are based on the revised Global NCAP standards.
"We have introduced the BNCAP regime which demands six airbags for a 4- / 5-star rating. So, there is no need to mandate six airbags in cars now. It will automatically push OEMs to offer them," Gadkari said in a panel discussion moderated by Autocar India editor Hormazd Sorabjee, at the 63rd ACMA annual convention in New Delhi.
"Manufacturers who are offering six airbags are gaining more market share. The market has accepted this trend. Those who do not want to offer, are facing problems as far as their sales are concerned," Gadkari added to his statement.
The Minister had earlier pushed for standard six airbags in an attempt to elevate vehicle safety, and in January 2022, had led the MoRTH to issue a draft notification as a proposal to mandate six airbags in all new cars. However, the move was met with strong opposition from the industry, particularly, India's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India, which had cited affordability concerns for its entry-level models.
It is understood that with no industry consent and preparedness, the regulation could not come into force on its original deadline of October 1, 2022, and was deferred by 12 months for all new models. Autocar Professional had exclusively reported about the likely delay in its implementation.
However, even for an October 1, 2023 implementation, there is no re-issuance yet of a draft notification, which must be announced by the MoRTH at least six months in advance. Instead, on August 22, the Ministry launched the BNCAP voluntary crash test protocol in India.
Since the MoRTH's last draft notification, the market dynamics have also changed, and Gadkari says that people have become more aware about safety, and are now more cautious. "Whatever models have six airbags, people may prefer to take that car. Now, it is up to the manufacturers and customers to decide. We do not need to make six airbags mandatory now," he said.
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