New cars, SUVs to have six-airbags standard from October 1, 2023

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari confirms delay in making 6 airbags mandatory is due to lack of airbag manufacturing capacity.

The mandatory six-airbag rule for all-new cars, SUVs will go into effect from October 1, 2023, Minister Nitin Gadkari has confirmed. It will apply to all new cars and SUVs that come under M1 category of vehicles in India.

Six airbag to now come into effect on October 1, 2023
Lack of airbag manufacturing capacity cited as key reason for delay
Additional manufacturing capacity of 10 million units needed

India’s six-airbag rule for passenger cars, SUVs: what’s new?  

This rule was first announced back in January this year and was to go into effect on Saturday, October 1, 2022 but has now been deferred by a year to October 1, 2023 due to lack of airbag manufacturing capacity in India.  Our sister publication, Autocar Professional reported a few days ago, that the government could defer this rule by due to lack of airbag-manufacturing capacity.

Industry sources have revealed that there simply isn’t enough airbag manufacturing capacity in India, which is the prime reason behind the expected delay. Airbag production would have to be nearly tripled to 18 million units a year to meet the surge in demand if all cars had to be compulsorily equipped with six airbags.

In India, a driver airbag was made mandatory in all cars from July 2019, with dual front airbags becoming compulsory from January 1, 2022. While the first draft notification for the same was rolled out in December 2020, the initially proposed deadline was April 1, 2021, for new models, extending to June 1, 2021, for all other existing models. However, after subsequent deadline extensions, dual airbags in cars eventually became mandatory only at the start of this calendar year.

India’s six-airbag rule for passenger cars, SUVs: new car prices will go up

It is learnt that more than the airbag cost, which is understood to make carmakers incur an additional expense of around Rs 7,500 per car for adding side and curtain airbags, the cost of model redevelopment as well as lack of adequate lead time to undertake such mega reengineering projects are other big concerns.  Many entry-level models in India like the Renault Kwid, and many models from Maruti and Hyundai and Tata would need to be re-engineered for this application.

While the total cost of a six-airbag system is estimated to range between Rs 12,500 and Rs 15,000 to OEMs, the effective price paid by the customer inflates by two to three times by the time the car reaches a customer’s home, due to levy of various central and state taxes, including road tax.

Do we really need six-airbags in all cars?

Moreover, the recent road accident that claimed the life of Cyrus Mistry is a clear example that more than airbags, it’s the seatbelt – part of a vehicle’s primary restraint system – that ends up saving lives in the event of a crash. This only highlights the need for all occupants to wear a seat belt, and, for that matter, even heavy cargo secured well, and that a simple rear seat belt reminder would go a long way towards instilling this habit, something we  at Autocar India, have been pointing out for a while now.

An airbag, on the other hand, forms the vehicle’s supplementary restraint system (SRS) and essentially assists an occupant’s seatbelt to help cushion the adverse impact of an accident from being transmitted to the human body. The efficacy of an airbag is only achieved when the occupants are securely strapped in their seats.

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