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Last Updated : Sep 12, 2014 09:37 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Are Indian automakers ready for mandatory car-crash tests?

Most cars sold in India do not undergo a frontal crash test even though cars Indian automakers sell abroad are crash-test compliant.

Most cars sold in India do not undergo a frontal crash test even though cars Indian automakers sell abroad are crash-test compliant.

For long, carmakers have said there are no testing facilities in India and since it is very expensive to get cars tested abroad, they'd rather do without such tests for models sold in the domestic market.

But now, they may not be left with much choice.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is planning to make frontal offset crash test mandatory for all cars sold in India from next year, when testing facilities of the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) will be ready.

Earlier, carmakers were saying such tests will push up vehicle costs but now, they appear to be resigned to getting these done. Toyota Kirloskar Motors is one company which has sold only crash-tested cars in India.

“We do a whole lot of testing on all our cars. We make some of the safest cars in the world. As a company, our stand is that you want global safety standards in India as well. Definitely our larger cars meet whatever ratings are there. But we are determined as a company that all our vehicles meet global safety standards,” SIAM president Vikram Kirloskar said.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is also keen to establish an Indian version of Global New Car Assessment Progamme or NCAP, an agency which provides crash testing for cars and also rates all vehicles on a scale of one to five in safety features.

Ministry officials have earlier said talks are on to establish such an agency in India which will determine safety features for vehicles sold in India based on our road and speed considerations.

This might mean even base models of cars may need to mandatorily come fiitted with safety features such as airbags, anti-lock braking system etc.

Carmakers have again pointed out in the past that installing such features on all cars will make these vehicles unaffordable for first-time buyers and those upgrading from scooters to four-wheelers.

Says Ranjit Yadav, President - Passenger Vehicle Biz Unit, Tata Motors, “There is no compromise on safety and that is something we are committed to, we have installed it in our vehicles and we have built it in as per regulation and beyond.”

Safety features in cars should really not be optional - either due to cost considerations or due to non-availability of proper vehicle testing facilties, India tops in road deaths and we obviously need to take vehicle and pedestrian safety much more seriously.

Of course, by installing more safety features in cars and by getting crash tests done, pedestrian deaths will not necessarily come down.

For that, other factors like faulty road designs need to be corrected. So the entire onus of enhancing safety on Indian roads does not lie with the auto industry only but it should come forward to do its bit to bring down accidental deaths on Indian roads.

First Published on Sep 12, 2014 09:32 pm