India could soon make safety ratings compulsory for cars

Cars in India will likely be rated on safety soon, as the government seeks to make star ratings compulsory for vehicles based on their performance in crash tests and other parameters.

The requirement is likely to become part of the regulations under the Bharat NCAP New Car Assessment Programme, a senior government official told Autonexa. The plan earlier was not to make it mandatory, but the government now feels there is a need to ensure that cars in India are on par with those in developed countries. While automakers must comply with all local safety standards, a low rating will not result in any disciplinary action against the manufacturer.

"Achieving a 4- or 5-star rating is not mandatory, contrary to the rules in some countries," the official said. "The idea is to get B-NCAP ratings for cars just like we have (on energy efficiency) for appliances." This will allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing vehicles, he said.

India ranks first globally for road accident-related fatalities and third in injuries, despite accounting for just 1% of the world's vehicle population. Each year there are up to 500,000 road accidents in the country, causing 150,000 deaths. Almost 70% of those who die in road accidents are aged 18 and 45 years.

car safety rating

The government is considering various measures, including promoting the manufacture of more durable vehicles, the introduction of advanced traffic control systems and the use of artificial intelligence-based technology to reduce human error on the roads.

India is 5-7 years behind other major auto markets in implementing crash test regulations, the official said.

The official said talks are underway with industry stakeholders to encourage and ensure that vehicles sold in the local market do not relax safety standards. "Our regulations are evolving. We are looking at Global-NCAP models in the US, Europe and Korea, and we are working with manufacturers before the rules are notified."

While some manufacturers have raised concerns about the cost implications of the enhanced regulations, the government is of the opinion that today's vehicles are ambitious and must meet global standards.

"Car buyers don't just want to merely commute. Therefore, they can use public transport. The new-age buyers are millennials, who are aware and willing to spend on safety and technology," the official said.

Last month, the Minister of Highways and Road Transport, Nitin Gadkari, approved a draft notification for the submission of the Bharat NCAP. The minister said that the star rating for Indian cars will be crucial not only to ensure the structural integrity and passenger safety of the cars, but also to increase the export-worthiness of vehicles manufactured in India. 

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