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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Govt takes note of car fires, may hold companies liable

Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 12, 2014
First Published: 00:35 IST(12/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:39 IST(12/6/2014)

The government is considering strict guidelines to rein in the increasing number of cars catching fire nationwide, holding car manufacturers culpable in cases where customers haven’t made major modifications.

Senior officials in the ministries of road transport and highways, and heavy industries told HT that manufacturers would not be allowed to take refuge under excuses like aftermarket fitment of equipment like central locking or music systems or even CNG/LPG cylinders.

Provisions for heavy penalties may also be laid down in cases where it is established beyond reasonable doubt that a car caught fire due to a manufacturing defect or use of poor quality materials.

Delhi has seen seven cases of cars catching fire in the last two months alone with four people killed. Last week, two teenagers were charred to death in southwest Delhi after their car caught fire.

“We found manufacturers deliberately charge more for features like central locking and music system forcing customers to go for aftermarket fitment,” a senior official at heavy industries ministry said.

“In some cases—where manufacturers charge double the amount — aftermarket fitment might be the cause for a fire but manufacturers could be held partially responsible. Such excuses shall no longer be entertained.” 

Highlighting the need for proper investigation in each case, an official at the ministry of road transport and highways said, “Right now, all we hear is short circuit and the case is closed. It is not as if only a particular type of car suffers from these problems.

“From a Maruti, Hyundai, Tata, Toyota, Honda to even an Audi have caught fire. How can we rule out a systemic failure?”


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