The increasing focus of the Central Government on increasing the safety levels of passenger vehicles sold in India has somehow changed the dynamics of the auto industry in the country. In recent years, the government made dual airbags, ABS and reverse parking sensors standard features across all passenger vehicles in India. And now, the government is set to make side and curtain airbags standard for all passenger vehicles in India.
While this move is praiseworthy from the point of view of the safety of the motorists, it also will dig a deeper hole in their pockets due to the increasing cost of additional airbags in the vehicle. In line with this notion, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, said that each additional airbag in a vehicle will increase the cost of the vehicle only by Rs 800 per airbag. With this statement, Gadkari has confirmed that the government is affirmed on its decision to make side and curtain airbags mandatory in the coming months.
Automobile manufacturers deciding on airbags
This statement of Gadkari about increasing the airbags count in every vehicle sold in India with such a small premium comes at a time when a few automobile manufacturers are advocating for a review of this decision. According to these manufacturers, the customers will have to bear the additional cost of the airbags, as a result of which buying a new car will become more expensive. At the same time, the manufacturing costs might also witness hikes. However, as per the union minister, each additional airbag will only cost Rs 800, which is bearable for customers who can afford cars.
While speaking during the question hour in Rajya Sabha, Nitin Gadkari stated that the government has already made dual front airbags mandatory for all passenger vehicles sold in India. For the additional safety of passengers seated at the rear, the government is bringing this policy to introduce side and curtain airbags, which will increase the number of mandatory airbags in a vehicle to six. He confirmed that the decision of issuing the final notification is now being considered by the Central Government. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is said to introduce this new norm from October 2022.
The automakers operating in India have already started rolling out side airbags as standard for their vehicles, with the recent examples being that of Sonet and Seltos from Kia. The Korean carmaker is quick to make reforms, as it has introduced standard curtain airbags on the Seltos and Carens.