The government proposed to make it compulsory for automobile companies to offer airbags for front passengers on new vehicle models. This rule might come in force from 1 April 2021. The models that are made currently will have to update according to the new rule from 1 June. The Union Road Transportation and Highways ministry released the draft notification, and the stakeholders can give their views to the proposal over the next month.
The notification read: “ Vehicles manufactured on and after 1st Day of April 2021, in the case of new models, and 1st of June 2021, in the case of existing models, shall come with airbag for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver. The requirement for such airbag shall be as per AIS 145 under the Bureau of Indian Standards act, 2016.” The current rule that mandates a single airbag is not adequate for the front passenger safety when a road crash occurs
Airbag as Mandatory Feature
Image: India Auto Blogs
One of the senior officials revealed that the ministry discussed whether a seat belt is enough for the passenger sitting in front, or should airbag be made compulsory. The ministry concluded that airbags for co-passenger on the front seat should be mandatory. If the proposal becomes a law, the production costs of the small cars will go up. In the past few years, the government constantly urged the automakers to improve their safety features such as Antilock Braking System and driver seat airbag in base models. However, the industry executives seem quite unhappy with the time provided for the update and are also concerned about the increase in cost.
In most of the developed markets, this rule does not exist. Though the industry expected such a proposal, the automakers will surely need some time to implement it. Carmakers are already badly affected by increased commodity prices and transportation. The cost of adding airbags will certainly increase the cost of vehicles impacting the sale of lower variants.
Vinesh Gulati, president of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association, said: ” The government step is a much-needed safety norm which India should adopt and be at par with global standards.” He further added “this will definitely increase the price of vehicles. BS6 norms have seen a big price increase, and this will also come with a price increase. We hope OEMs should absorb the major cost of input due to the second airbag as it will impact the sales in short-term”.
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Features like speed alert, reverse parking sensors, seat-belt reminder were standard safety features in vehicles so far. But the crucial safety gear, the front-seat airbag, was not mandatory to date.
The amendment of AIS suggested the child lock system is not necessary for commercial vehicles. This feature can be trouble in four-wheelers used for commercial purposes can be risky for passengers. Presently, drivers of commercial vehicles must disable child lock for safety. A source said: “ It felt that we should do away with the provision of child lock rather than leaving it to the wish of drivers to disable them. The dealer can deal with it rather than leaving to the driver’s end.
Cars in India with 6 or More Airbags
Some manufactures offer more safety features over the ones that are mandatory. Here is a list of affordable cars with 6 airbags,
Ford Figo is the most affordable car in India that offers 6 airbags. The price of the car ranges between ₹ 5.49 – 8.15 lakh. The top-end Titanium Blu variant comes with other safety features like ABD with EBD, a high-speed alert system, rear parking sensors and a reverse camera.
Hyundai Elite i20
The current-gen i20 in the premium hatchback offers plenty of features and safety tech. The top variant, Asta trim has a driver, passenger, side and curtain airbag. Other safety features include ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors, rear camera, speed alert system, driver and passenger seat belt. The car retails between ₹ 6.49 and 8.3 lakh.
Ford Freestyle is a crossover. The car gets most of its design and features from the Ford Figo. It features the Figo to make it look sportier. This sub-4m crossover currently retails for Rs 5.99 lakh to Rs. 8.49 lakh. The car comes with safety features like 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors, a rear camera, and many more. It also gets an additional Active Rollover Prevention. This includes Hill Launch Assist, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control, and Electric Power-Assist Steering.
Ford Aspire comes with 6 airbags. It has all the safety features that Ford Figo offers. It includes ABS with EBD, a high-speed alert system, rear parking sensors and a reverse camera. The car retails at a starting price of Rs 6.09 lakh and the top variant with 6 airbags costs Rs 8.64 lakh.
The sub-compact from Hyundai is one of the top-selling cars in its segment. The car comes with a variety of powertrains, gearboxes and tons of features. Apart from these, the Venue comes with many safety equipments. The safety features include driver, passenger, side
and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Assist Control, reverse parking sensors and a rear parking camera. Hyundai offers the Venue in a price range of Rs 6.69 lakh to Rs. 11.58 lakh.
Ecosport is the car that initiated the sub-5m SUV segment altogether. Ford launched Ecosport in 2013 and facelifted it in 2017. It still stays fresh as Ford regularly updates the SUV according to the market trend. The Ecosport retails for Rs. 8.17 lakh and the top variant costs Rs. 11.71 lakh. The top-end variant offers safety features like 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Hill Launch Assist and reverse parking camera.
This sub-4m achieved a 5-star rating for adult occupant protection and 4 stars for child occupant safety in the crash tests. The car comes with safety features like 7 airbags, front and rear parking sensors, Electronic Stability Program with Roll-over Mitigation, Hill Start Assist, front and rear fog lamps, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Corner Braking Control and all four disc brakes. The car costs between Rs 8.3 lakh to 12.69 lakh.
Yaris did not do well in sales but offers the highest number of active and passive safety features. Toyota Yaris is the only car that offers 7 airbags as standard from the base variant in its segment. The safety features include dual front, side, curtain and knee airbags.
The advanced safety measures like disc brakes, ABS with EBD, traction control, ESP, front and rear parking sensors. Toyota Yaris price ranges between Rs. 8.76 lakh and Rs. 14.18 Lakh.
Hyundai Verna comes with six airbags but only from the SX(O) variant. The car comes with a 1368 cc 1.4 L Kappa Dual VTVT with 6-speed manual transmission and a 1591 cc 1.6 L Dual VTVT engine with 6-speed manual transmission. Verna car rivals the likes of the Honda City and the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. The car price is around Rs. 8.08 lakh. It is also enabled with ABS.
Car Safety Norms in India
- All new cars from October 2019 should have mandatory basic features like driver side airbag, ABS, reverse parking sensors, speed warning system and seat belt reminder.
- Software-based features like sensors are mandatory for pedestrian safety. This safety feature facilitates the sending of information to its control unit, thereby creating an air gap between the hood and engine by lifting the bonnet a few centimetres. This reduces the impact of the damage.
- Norms that deal with driver protection from steering intervention is mandatory. Features for protection of the driver and the front passenger from a collision are mandatory. This norm applies to all new car models from October 2017. This norm has to be stringently implemented from 2020.
- The government is also thinking of providing ESC and AEB as standard on all models from 2022-23.