From Unsafe to Safe: Indian OEMs Leaping Towards Safety
India witnesses one fatality every four minutes and an injury a minute on account of road accidents. India tops the list of automotive fatalities in the world. In the past couple of years, there have been steps from both the sides – OEMs as well as the policymakers to make Indian cars safer. In this article we will take a look at the factors that are enhancing the safety of automobiles in the country.
Recent safety norms:
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken following steps to uplift the safety norms in India.:
In April 2019, ABS was made compulsory for all the passenger vehicles being manufactured, for all two-wheeler models with engines less than or equal to 125 cc, Combi-Braking system or CBS was made mandatory. Both these rules apply to models that were launched pre and post the date of enactment of the regulation.
In July 2019, driver-side airbag, a speed warning alarm, seatbelt reminder alarms for both driver and co-driver, and rear parking sensors were made as a standard fitment in all cars.
Indian government has made dual airbags (driver and co-driver) for new models mandatory from April 2021. The proposed timelines also make dual airbags mandatory for existing models from 31st August 2021.
Speed warning system is also made mandatory. The system alerts the driver once every minute if the speed is above 80kmph and sounds a continuous alarm when the driver speeds above 120kmph. The regulation forbids any provision to turn off or override these alarms.
Another mandatory feature announced in 2019 is the use of three-point front seat belts which is necessary for effective deployment of airbags.
In the same year, government mandated deployment of reverse parking sensors to avoid injury to children or objects that are not visible in the rear-view mirror due to low height.
In 2017, the government had already tightened the structural safety requirements for full-frontal impact, offset-frontal impact, and side-impact for all newly launched passenger vehicle models. In October 2019, these requirements became applicable for all new cars on sale in India.
As per the updated standards for the crash tests, vehicles have to undergo tests for full-frontal impact at 48KPH, offset-frontal impact with a fixed deformable barrier at 56kph, and side-impact with a mobile deformable barrier at 50kph.
The government also mandated pedestrian safety norms which mandated a new design of the bonnet to absorb the impact causing minimum damage to the pedestrians for all newly launched cars from October 2018 and are extended to include in all cars from 2020.
Active safety elements like Electronic Stability Control and seat belt reminders are set to be prerequisites for a car achieving a 5-star rating. Government is considering mandating ESC and EAB on all PV models from 2022-23.
Moves from the OEMs:
While regulations from the government are pushing the safety upgrades, even stronger push is coming from consumer awareness and OEMs efforts to move ahead in the race of safety norms.
Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors – two homegrown Indian automakers have been actively sending their models for GNCAP. These companies have also made impressive GNCAP ratings a core part of their marketing strategy. Due to this competition, other players are also investing towards making their platforms and vehicles compliant for GNCAP norms.
As a result of this focus of OEMs on the safety, many safety features are available in the automotive market for vehicle manufactures to install on their vehicles. Curtain airbags, drunk driver detection systems, active bonnet system, anti-theft systems, drive fatigue monitoring system etc. These systems are helpful in enhancing safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.
In November 2019, the EU Council of Ministers passed a general safety regulation mandating automakers to install advanced safety systems in all new cars manufactured for the EU market. These advanced safety systems include driver inattention or drowsiness detection systems based on camera and issue a warning in case of inattention or drowsiness. Looking at the general trend, very soon, these systems will be mandated in India as well. In our next article, we will be taking a closer look at the driver monitoring systems overview in India to impart deeper insights.
Indian manufacturers are actively looking for suppliers who can supply safety technologies to enhance the safety of their existing platforms as well as for creating safer platforms. In this way, a big opportunity awaits global tech suppliers.
As the numbers of EVs is increasing, EV safety technologies will also be in demand. While Indian government has announced many schemes to boost EVs, Indian EV OEMs are looking for ways to make their EVs safer. Same will apply to autonomous vehicles as their penetration increases.
To summarise, Indian auto market is catching up with European or American car market from safety and features point of view. To grab the bigger market shares, safety enhancement is going to be a major part of OEM strategies.
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