Entry level car prices will rise by Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 35,000 from October next year as the government will make it mandatory for all new passenger cars in India to have basic safety features such as air bags, anti-lock braking systems, child restraint systems, seat belt reminders and reinforced body structures.
Prices of lower-end variants of some small and mid-segment cars could also rise by a similar amount once these safety features become the norm.
Road transport and highways secretary Vijay Chhibber told HT that India’s first vehicle safety standard, the India New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), based on the widely accepted United Nations NCAP, will be notified early next year.
The new NCAP regulations would require manufacturers to reinforce the car’s structure in line with European standards that will enable it to pass frontal and side impact crash tests at 56 kmph. Presently, passenger cars in Indian are equipped to withstand frontal crash tests at 46 kmph. Indian roads are among the most unsafe in the world. Around 140,000 people die in road accidents every year.
“Initially compliance will be voluntary but from October 2015, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to comply with the safety regulations,” Chhibber said.
The decision comes in the wake of two popular small cars, Maruti Suzuki Swift and Datsun’s entry-level car Go, failing crash tests by global testing firm Global NCAP, the umbrella body of consumer car safety testing bodies, on Monday.
Earlier this year, five of the most popular small cars in India – Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo – had failed Global NCAP crash tests.
Since then, Volkswagen has decided to offer airbags as standard in all its cars. Last month, Toyota followed suit by offering airbags as standard in its small car Liva and sedan Etios.
Both Maruti Suzuki and Nissan Motors, which makes the Datsun Go, said their cars meet all requirements as per current Indian norms.