Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways in the Government of India said small cars should also have an adequate number of airbags as cars are also purchased by lower or middle-class families. He said this in an interview with PTI on Sunday.
He said, “Mostly, lower middle-class people buy small economy cars and if their car won’t have airbags and when accidents happen, then it may result in deaths. So, I appeal to all car manufacturers to provide a minimum of six airbags across all variants and segments of the vehicle,”
Nitin Gadkari acknowledged the fact that adding airbags to the vehicles would increase the price of the vehicle. According to him, the prices of the vehicles would increase by Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 if the additional airbags are added. He said, “in our country, poor should also get protection (in case of road accidents)”.
Quite recently, Skoda Auto did something similar. They added the 6 airbags and tyre pressure monitoring system to their Kushaq mid-size SUV. The top-end Style variant only came with dual airbags till now. Adding, these two features have increased the price of the mid-size SUV by Rs. 40,000.
Gadkari asked for 6 airbags as standard
In the interest of passenger safety, I have also appealed all Private Vehicle Manufacturers to compulsorily provide a minimum of 6 Airbags across all variants and segments of the vehicle. pic.twitter.com/0clrCyHvid
— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) August 3, 2021
Nitin Gadkari wrote on Twitter, “In the interest of passenger safety, I have also appealed all Private Vehicle Manufacturers to compulsorily provide a minimum of 6 Airbags across all variants and segments of the vehicle.” The government of India already has mandated driver side airbag and from 31st December 2021, dual airbags will be mandated on all vehicles.
It is important to note that no automobile manufacturer is planning to offer 6 airbags as standard on their vehicles. This is because the prices of the vehicle would increase significantly and then their vehicle would be less competitive in the market. Earlier, no one used to pay attention to the safety and crash test scores while buying the vehicle. Tata Motors was the first one to spread awareness regarding crash test scores. Their Nexon compact SUV scored 4 stars in the Global NCAP crash test.
Development needs to be done for dual airbags
Often dashboards are used to hide the wiring harness and other components. It took a lot of time for the automobile manufacturers to comply with the mandatory single airbag rule. Yes, dual airbags can be easily installed in the vehicle is new but if the vehicle is already on sale then the manufacturer would need to re-engineer and figure out where those wiring harnesses or components will go. They would have to purchase the additional airbag and install it. They also would need to test the airbag as it should open at a particular angle so that it does not hurt the occupant. All of this will add up to the cost of the manufacturing.
Another thing that automobile manufacturers can do is work on the structure of the vehicle and make it stronger. If the structure of the vehicle is stronger, it would be able to take the impact of the crash. This is what Mahindra and Tata have done. Also, often it happens that the Indian spec vehicles score less in the crash test than the international spec vehicles. For instance, Suzuki Swift in New Zealand scored 5 stars in the ANCAP rating, whereas the India-spec Swift scored 0 stars in Latin NCAP.