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Stop selling vehicles with downgraded safety: Government to car makers

The Government of India has asked manufacturers to stop selling vehicles with purposefully downgraded safety standards in India. The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) secretary Giridhar Aramane asked the manufacturers to stop this “unpardonable” practice and expressed its concerns over the reports that suggest that the manufacturers sell vehicles with downgraded safety standards in India.

The secretary of MoRTH was speaking at a seminar organised by the automobile industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Giridhar Aramane also noted that only a few manufacturers have adopted the vehicle safety rating system and only high-end models follow the same according to ET Auto.

While speaking at the seminar, Aramane said that he is deeply perturbed by the news items that the Indian-spec models have purposefully downgraded safety standards and the practice needs to be stopped. He also said that manufacturers could not spare any efforts when offering best quality vehicles in India and it is unpardonable that a few of them are downgrading to sell vehicles in India.

Aramane also said that only a few manufacturers have adopted the new safety ratings for all its vehicles in India. And he feels very disturbed by the fact that only a few high-end models follow the standards laid down by the government. Aramane asked the manufactures to get safety ratings for all its vehicles that are sold in India. This is to ensure that the consumers are aware of what they are buying and what implications it can have in the future. As a suggestion, he said that maybe it is essential for all the automobile manufacturers to get safety ratings for all the vehicles that they sell in India.

Inferior vehicles sold in India

In the past few years, Global NCAP, an automobile safety rating agency started a campaign called “Safer cars for India”. They tested several India-spec cars and found out that many vehicles sold in India have inferior safety standard compared to the versions of the same models that are sold in the international markets. Many of these vehicles are made in India and are exported to the international markets.

Aramane cited the example of the USA and said that in 2018, approximately 36,560 deaths happened in about 45 lakh reported accidents across the country. Whereas in India, a humongous 1.5 lakh died in 4.5 lakh reported road accidents. The number of accidents is ten times less compared to the USA but the number of fatal accidents is about five times higher compared to the USA. This is despite having slower cars and slower speed limits across India.

Example of Volvo

He further asked the manufacturers to share patents in the area of safety just like Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin of Volvo did decades ago. Volvo shared the patent of three-point safety belt that became a major part of the safety of all the cars sold across the world. The significance of sharing technology and patents shall not be lost on auto industry majors working in India, he said.

While the Indian government has made it mandatory to offer anti-lock braking system, seat belts, seat belt warning, rear parking sensors and more, there are still a few gaps. He urged the manufacturers to fully implement these features and not restrict these safety items to higher-end versions of the vehicles.

The government is also taking measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities. In the future, there will be a scheme of emergency care and cashless treatment for accident victims and also vehicle location traction or VLT will become an integral part of such a scheme. The system will utilise the GPS-based toll system that the government is planning to implement in the coming years.