Multi-seater people carriers manufactured by Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) will cease to exist after June following the introduction of safety and crash test norms over the next few months.
These diesel engine-powered, 4-8 seater vehicles, which are extensively used in rural and semi-rural pockets, do not meet the requirements of the new regulations in their current body form thereby bringing an end to the entire segment. This is also the first time that an entire segment will be wiped out due to changes in regulations.
These vans are mainly used for commercial use such as taxis and a small portion of them would also be bought for personal use.
As many as five passenger-derivatives of Tata Motors’ popular model Ace including the Ace Magic, Magic Iris and Magic Express and five similar passenger derivatives of Mahindra’s Supro mini truck and the Jeeto minivan will be discontinued from showrooms.
Mumbai-based M&M has already discontinued the Jeeto 4-5 seater minivan, confirmed Pawan Goenka, managing director, Mahindra and Mahindra speaking to Moneycontrol on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the quarterly results.
“They (minivans) are not viable anymore because the cost increase (to upgrade them) is too high. We have already stopped the Jeeto minivan because of that reason. The cost of putting ABS and airbag in that product is just not justified. Unfortunately, the entire minivan category will be wiped out. We will make another appeal to the new government but so far we have not succeeded,” Goenka said.
From July 1, the norms make it mandatory for passenger vehicles having less than nine seats to have airbags, speed warning systems, reverse parking sensors and seat-belt reminder.
From October 1, all such vehicles will have to be certified for their crashworthiness. These vans are put under the same M1 category of vehicles which also houses cars classified as hatchbacks, saloons and station wagons. It is also mandatory for cars to meet the same norms from July 1.
These vans are built on light truck platforms and, therefore, lack the core safety standards used in building modern day cars. While such vehicles now have hard steel tops which replaced the soft tops that they featured earlier, their structure and design remain vulnerable to damage and pose risk to the lives of its occupants in an event of an accident.
At the sidelines of announcing their March quarter results Girish Wagh, the head of commercial vehicles, Tata Motors told Moneycontrol, “We are not taking ahead the passenger versions of the Ace. It has got nothing to do with emissions. We are not taking them ahead because of the safety norms. All M1 class vehicles need to meet the off-set crash regulations, which means an addition to lots of weight and cost. This segment is permit controlled and it has been slowing down.”
As per data shared by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the passenger van segment saw sales of 115,403 units last financial year, a drop of 2 percent compared to 2017-18 when the segment clocked 117,681 units.
Car market leader Maruti Suzuki has already signalled an end to the Omni. The company won’t be investing in upgrading the van and would instead shift buyers to the bigger and more expensive option Eeco.
Maruti will be upgrading the Eeco, used for commercial and personal purposes, which also is technically a van but is built on a car platform instead of a truck platform like the other cars in the segment.