Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road and Transport and Highways, Government of India, informed via his official Twitter handle that he has approved a draft notification of mandating six-airbags in vehicles with seating capacity of upto 8 passengers. Mr. Gadkari previously had requested all automakers to include 6 airbags as a standard feature in their cars and SUVs in order to ensure the safety of the occupants. Though, it has not been revealed yet by the Minister or the department when this law will come into effect.
“In order to enhance the safety of the occupants in motor vehicles carrying upto 8 passengers, I have now approved a draft GSR Notification to make a minimum of 6 airbags compulsory,” read a tweet from Gadkari's official handle. The Government of India had made dual front airbags as standard feature from January 1 this year while the driver's side airbag became a mandatory feature in all the Indian cars from July 1, 2019. While it cannot be ruled out that inclusion of six airbags in every car sold in India will make it super safe for the passengers, it will increase the cost of the vehicles substantially. The addition of side and curtain airbags in budget cars could escalate the price by at least Rs 50,000 if not more.
The entry-level car prices start in India from around Rs 2.50-3.00 Lakhs and if these cars get equipped with 6-airbags, then the starting price will be around Rs 3.75-4.00 Lakhs (Ex. Showroom). Presently, Maruti Suzuki, Nissan and Renault are major players in the small car segment and interestingly, all three of these do not have a single product in their portfolio which comes with 6-airbags. It is also believed that installation of 6-airbags might also lead to a lot of reengineering in cars as they are originally not made to offer that level of protection. They could undergo changes in body shell as well as to the interior trim and fittings in order to ensure that the airbags are effectively deployed.