Relief for automakers as govt defers six airbags rule to Oct 2023
The government on Thursday deferred until October 2023 the implementation of norms mandating six airbags in all cars, giving the industry a one-year extension.
The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), earlier this year, had made it mandatory for six airbags to be installed in all passenger cars that can carry up to eight people. The rule was to kick in from October 1, 2022.
The latest decision comes despite the government’s prioritisation of passenger safety irrespective of vehicle cost or variants, said Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of six airbags in passenger cars (M-1 Category) w.e.f 01st October 2023,” he said.
Manish Singhania, president of Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) said it’s a sense of comfort for the industry which struggles with a supply crunch of semiconductors and chips.
By deferring implementation of the norm, the government has recognised genuine concerns of the automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava told PTI.
Bhargava had earlier said a slowdown in growth of the automobile sector due to overshooting costs caused by the rule could have an adverse impact on macroeconomic growth as the industry was one of the largest creators of employment.
Even with the extended deadline, there are concerns over the rule’s impact on costs, as India is a price-sensitive market. However, consumers have adapted to changes provided the benefits outweigh the additional costs, Singhania said.
“We consider this an initial setback, particularly in the entry level category, but over time, if customers comprehend and become aware of the benefits, they will embrace the change as they have in the past when it comes to accepting new technologies.”
Gadkari, until recently, had said the government would implement the regulation regardless of concerns raised by automakers about the impact on the cost of manufacturing four-wheelers, claiming that manufacturers can no longer prioritise profits over safety.
“The same company, when it exports those cars, puts in six airbags but when they make them for the locals, they only put four. Are the lives of the poor not worthy of being saved?” said Gadkari at an event recently.
The six-airbag rule is one of the many regulatory changes introduced by the government to reduce road accident fatalities. MoRTH introduced the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (BNCAP) earlier this year to assign independent crash test ratings to Indian cars. Moreover, after the death of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, the ministry also notified a change in automobile standards to mandate the installation of a rear-seatbelt alarm in all cars.