Volkswagen Polo Global NCAP

The failure to meet global NCAP safety crash test by five popular Indian cars was an alarming situation for the future of vehicular safety in the country. With emphasis given too much on pricing, the safety standards have been dismal with no regard for passenger safety. However, just months after the results of the Global NCAP crash tests were revealed, the Indian government has drawn up a set of safety norms for new cars in the country, which will make mandatory offset frontal crash and side and rear impact tests that could be enforced by 2017.

Every year almost 1.3 million fatalities occur due to road accidents in India, the highest in the world, despite having only one percent of the world’s vehicular population. However, the new safety norms will ensure that new cars go through mandatory crash tests in a few years. The government is studying the crash-test norms and assessment programs from different developed markets like Europe, Japan and USA to develop the most ideal mix for India. A detailed procedure regarding the safety-rating in India is expected to be ready in the coming months.

Cars sold in the country will be given star ratings based on their safety performance similar to Euro NCAP. The government will start implementing the new crash test norms in a phased manner; however, this will also mean that the existing range of cars on the road will have to go through some major revisions to comply with the new safety norms. The new safety norms will lead to car makers having to make major architectural changes to their current models, while the older models are most likely to be phased out. While not only will they not meet the new safety standards, altering them may not be a financially viable option.

Being a price sensitive market, manufacturers till date have shied away from investing on safety equipment. The new cars however, will have to go through structural changes, changes to the body design, strengthening of the chassis and body cage to meet the new norms. The addition of airbags, ABS and EBD would also be mandated and would add to the safety credit rating of the car. At an additional stage, the cars will be rated on even more stricter norms like pedestrian protection, whiplash injury and child restrain system.

While this certainly is a very good move by the government to finally implement the needed safety norm, expect manufacturers to increase the prices of their vehicles substantially because of the additional cost incurred. Experts suggest that car prices could be hiked by 8-15 percent depending on the model to meet the new safety standards. So for a car that today costs Rs. 4 lakhs, the price will be increased up to Rs. 4.40 lakhs in the future. However, the additional equipment will also make our cars export ready, and will help manufacturers price the vehicles more effectively.

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