Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari has announced that there is no need to mandate six airbags anymore with the launch of the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (BNCAP) from October 1, 2023, that is based on the latest Global NCAP standards.
- Industry was not prepared for the six airbag mandate
- Choice of six airbags left to manufacturers and customers
"We have introduced the BNCAP protocols, which demand six airbags for a 4- or 5-star rating. So, there is no need to mandate six airbags in cars now. It will automatically push OEMs to offer them," Gadkari said in a panel discussion moderated by Autocar India editor Hormazd Sorabjee at the 63rd ACMA annual convention in New Delhi.
"Manufacturers who are offering six airbags are gaining more market share, and the market has accepted this trend. Those who do not want to offer are facing problems as far as sales are concerned," Gadkari said.
The minister had earlier pushed for six airbags to become standard in an attempt to elevate vehicle safety, and in January 2022, had led the MoRTH to issue a draft notification as a proposal to mandate six airbags in all new cars. However, the move was met with strong opposition from the industry, particularly India's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India, which had cited affordability concerns for its entry-level models.
With no industry consent and preparedness, the regulation could not come into force on its original deadline of October 1, 2022, and was deferred by 12 months; we had also then reported about the likely delay in its implementation. Even if the proposal were to be implemented from October 1, 2023, the MoRTH had to have reissued a draft notification, however, the ministry launched BNCAP safety tests.
Since the MoRTH's last draft notification, the market dynamics have also changed, and Gadkari says that people have become more aware about safety and are more cautious. "Whatever models have six airbags, people may prefer to take that car. Now, it is up to the manufacturers and customers to decide," he said.