Govt to go ahead with six airbags mandate despite resistance from OEMs: Report
The road transport ministry is pushing ahead with the requirement to have six airbags in all passenger cars made in the country, despite resistance from some carmakers as they worry about the increase in the cost of vehicles, Reuters reported, citing a senior government source. "Safety is non-negotiable. The ministry is finalising the rules, which will take some time to be notified," the official said. However, a timeline for the same has not yet been finalized.
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In January, the government had issued a draft guideline requiring all new cars from October 1 to be fitted with six airbags, including four passenger airbags and two side or curtain airbags. The policy was scheduled to be finalised a month later but is still being analysed after feedback from auto companies, the report stated.
The comments from the government official comes a week after Maruti Suzuki told Reuters that such a rule will make small cars more expensive and discourage some potential buyers who cannot afford to shell out more money for a vehicle (Read full report here).
At present, driver and front passenger airbags in all cars are already mandatory. While the government estimates that addition of four more airbags would not cost more than $75. However, auto market data provider JATO Dynamics estimates that it could increase costs by at least $231. "The cost implication is exaggerated. The ministry has consulted airbag makers on the cost and time needed to make the parts locally," the government official said.
The government estimates that having airbags, along with seat belts, would have saved the lives of at least one-third of the 39,000 people who died in road accidents in 2020 due to head-on or side collisions. "Carmakers should provide airbags as a matter of safety, it should not have to be mandated by the government. We're having to step up regulations because companies are not doing it on their own," the official said.