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Six-airbag rule for cars deferred by 1 yr


The centre has postponed implementing a proposal making it mandatory for passenger cars to have six airbags by a year to 1 October 2023, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday.

The domestic automotive industry had sought a rethink on the rule claiming inflation and regulatory costs made passenger vehicles—particularly small and entry-level cars —expensive.

The government, however, has cited inadequate capacity at the suppliers’ end to scale up manufacturing of airbags.

The extension in the timeline comes along expected lines, as the industry had been lobbying the government for an extension for long.

“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 6 Airbags in Passenger Cars (M-1 Category) w.e.f 01st October 2023,“ Gadkari said in a Twitter post.

“Safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority,” he added.

Gadkari had recently remarked that while some manufacturers had underlined issues in implement the proposal, most were willing to do so.

India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki had said that the cost of fitting in additional airbags in entry-segment cars would make their prices go out of reach of the first-time buyer, especially in a shrinking small car market.

“The majority of automobile manufacturers in India export cars with six airbags. But in India, due to the economic models and costs, they are hesitating,” Gadkari said during an industry event in New Delhi recently.

“I tell my friends in the automobile sector that you should be quality-centric and not cost-centric, because the choices of people are changing,” he had said.

The ministry of road transport and highways also recently issued a draft amendment to the Automotive Industry Standards or AIS 156, the set of rules that contains safety regulations for the Indian auto sector, to make safety belt reminders mandatory for passengers in the rear seat.

By deferring implementation of the rule, the government has recognized the genuine concerns of the automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R.C. Bhargava said on Thursday. “Industry had been seeking postponement because there was not enough time (to comply) and the market was down and it is great that the government has recognised the validity of what we were saying and they have acted very supportive of the industry,” Bhargava said.

An airbag interferes between the driver and the vehicle’s dashboard during a collision, thereby preventing serious injuries. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, over 155,000 people were killed in road crashes across India in 2021 which is the highest death figure recorded in any calendar year so far.

PTI contributed to this story.

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