The Minister of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari has again called out upon passenger vehicle makers to introduce 6 airbags in every new car sold.
Gadkari was responding in the Rajya Sabha during the question hour. He said that while the present mandate is to have 2 airbags – driver and co-passenger, the additional 4 airbags will help make the vehicle occupants safe.
According to the lates data available, a total of 3,66,138 accidents were reported in India in 2020, of which 60,986 were cars, taxis, vans and light motor vehicles. A total of 17,873 lives were lost in this vehicle category.
The minister’s statement was targeted towards a section of auto manufacturers who have argued that the cost of adding additional airbags would make the vehicle expensive, and the incremental cost would lead customers to not be able to buy a four-wheeler. This would mean he/she would continue or switch his buying choice towards a two-wheeler or old used vehicle, which is comparatively less safe.
In his statement, Gadkari said that the cost of an airbag will come down to just Rs 800, and hence the cost of 4 additional airbags would not be much.
According to experts, while the cost of an airbag maybe a fraction of the cost of a vehicle, the addition of extra airbags would also mean a complete design change, and many of the existing vehicle platforms currently available in the market will not be able to equip this. A complete new platform/design takes anywhere between 2-years to 5-years. The real question is if mandated, will the entry-level vehicles make a disappearing act or the price increase will be too incremental and hence make the customer look at other options.