India may soon have its own set of recall laws for vehicles that would compel domestic car manufacturers to recall cars in case of a technical or manufacturing defect, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Recall laws are an integral feature of the automotive policy in all major markets such as the US and European Union nations and is considered a vital tool for passenger and vehicle safety.
In other markets, manufacturers are often penalised for not taking adequate steps to redress a technical snag. In the US for example, such a law has been in force since 1966 and around 400 million vehicles, 46 million tyres and 66 million pieces of components have been recalled till date.
However, in India, carmakers are not obliged under law to recall vehicles.
"We will set up an umbrella body as the National Automotive Board in the next 2-3 months, which among other things would also look at provisions for recall," said Ambuj Sharma, joint secretary, ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises. "Right now the guidelines for recalls is being debated. We are also discussing imposition of penalties to a auto maker if it does not recall a vehicle despite problems."
In India, most carmakers have been coy about recalls as it is perceived as a bad word. Most recalls in the country happen as part of global recalls but on numerous instances (see table) manufacturers have taken redressal measures without calling it a recall.
"In every aspect, India is progressing and catching up with global standards, so it is time when we looked at recalls as well," said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, Honda Siel Cars India.
The government also said that it is hopeful of bringing in full crash tests for cars by 2014. This is expected to make cars safer and bridge the gap with developed markets. Crash tests were originally slated to come into effect by 2012, but have been delayed as the two testing facilities are running behind schedule.