NEW DELHI: The road transport ministry has proposed mandatory installation of six airbags in all cars with seating capacity of up to eight people from October this year.
The move, irrespective of cost and variant, was announced by Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday. Aimed at improving the safety of passengers in the rear seats, it will push up the cost by Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 per vehicle.
"To minimise the impact of frontal and lateral collisions to the occupants seated in both front and rear compartments, it has been decided that four additional airbags be mandated in the M1 (cars) vehicle category: two side/ side torso airbags and two side curtain/ tube airbags covering all outboard passengers...," Gadkari tweeted.
The auto industry wasn't pleased with the plan. A source in the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said the lobby group had flagged to Gadkari how the move to make six airbags mandatory was not based on any evidence and road deaths data when he had first held a meeting with industry representatives in August.
"Nowhere in the world there is a regulation for airbags in cars. We are meeting the regulatory crash test norms. Second, there is no data or empirical evidence of rear seat passengers or occupant in cars facing bigger risk in crashes. There will be an additional cost to the cars because of the additional features and that will impact decision-making of people who want to shift from two-wheelers to cars," the source said.
Industry sources also said the proposed timeline was tough to implement. However, government officials dismissed the claims citing that all cars manufactured in India for export to Europe have at least six airbags.