India is making good progress in making vehicles safer for the consumer, International car-safety ratings agency Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) said, as it looks forward to safer cars with the introduction of Bharat NCAP, India’s very own vehicular safety regulation to come into force by October.
In an exclusive conversation with HT before the results were announced on Wednesday, David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP, said, “In some areas India is a world leader, for example, in mandating anti-lock brakes for motorcycles. However, in other areas more needs to be done such as introducing a regulation for the anti-skid technology electronic stability control (ESC).
“This life saving system is already compulsory in many high-income countries but is also now starting to be regulated in some emerging markets including Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia. India will increasingly need to fit ESC to all its vehicle exports so we believe it should be made standard for all production certainly by 2020,” he said
When asked if the Bharat NCAP is being drafted in consultation with the global agency, Ward said the process was triggered by the first crash-test results for Indian cars released in 2014. Except a two-airbag Volkswagen Polo, all cars tested then – Tata Nano, Maruti Suzuki Alto and Swift, Hyundai i10 and Ford Figo had flunked the tests.
“From the launch of the Safe Cars for India project in 2014, we have encouraged the Indian Government to adopt front and side impact crash test standards based on UN regulations. That is why in our first phase of results we carried tests at both the regulation speed of 56 kmph and also at the usual NCAP speed of 64 kmph. This showed clearly that very popular models in India would not pass the UN frontal impact test,” Ward said.
Ward said he has had “a very positive dialogue with honourable (road and highways transport) minister Nitin Gadkari and also with senior officials from the relevant government departments and agencies.”
“I am impressed with his determination to improve India’s road and vehicle safety,” he said about Gadkari, who moved the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 in the Indian Parliament last month to enact stricter road safety laws.
When asked what next for Global NCAP in the India chapter, Ward said, “What we are able to do depends partly on funding and also on the development of India’s own NCAP plans.”
Global NCAP, a non-profit organisation based out of London, conducts Indian tests with support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Bharat NCAP is being drafted by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) and the ministry of heavy industries. Ward said some of the NCAPs across the world are government run, such as in Japan, the USA, Korea and China, while some others are mixed public and stakeholder groups, like the Euro NCAP, Latin NCAP and ASEAN NCAP.
“Once this Indian NCAP is up and running we hope that they will be able to test a wider range of top selling Indian vehicles on a permanent basis,” Ward said.
When asked if any influence over Bharat NCAP would endanger the transparency of the ratings the proposed Indian agency would issue, Ward said they are closely following the launch of the Bharat NCAP and hoped it will follow the good practice already used by other NCAPs around the world.
“The critical factor in all of them is that they have clear independence in their test procedures. This is crucial for consumer credibility.”