Bharat NCAP: India gets its own car crash testing programme

The programme is voluntary except in certain cases such as a base variant of a popular vehicle model (minimum clocked sale of 30,000 units), or when the Ministry recommends a model for testing based on market feedback or in the interest of public safety

Updated - August 22, 2023 09:48 pm IST

Published - August 22, 2023 07:46 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari with Minister of State Gen. (Retd.) V. K. Singh, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Secretary, Anurag Jain and others during the unveiling of ‘Bharat New Car Assessment Program’ (Bharat NCAP) in New Delhi.

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari with Minister of State Gen. (Retd.) V. K. Singh, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Secretary, Anurag Jain and others during the unveiling of ‘Bharat New Car Assessment Program’ (Bharat NCAP) in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: KAMAL NARANG

Come October 1, car manufacturers can volunteer to get a star rating indicating the safety of their models in a crash, under an indigenous programme for testing.

The Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP) is modelled on the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), a project of the Towards Zero Foundation, which is a U.K.-registered charity that promotes the universal adoption of the United Nation’s most important motor vehicle safety standards worldwide.

The new programme will be applicable to passenger vehicles with not more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kg. The programme will be based on the soon-to-be published Automative Industry Standard 197, which lays down testing protocols.

Officials of the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said manufacturers had offered 30 models for testing. They did not reveal the names of the manufacturers who had agreed to volunteer for Bharat NCAP.

A rating from one star to five stars will be assigned to a vehicle after an evaluation of three parameters — adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, and safety assist technologies present in the car.

The first two parameters will be calculated with the help of three different kinds of tests, which include a frontal offset test where a vehicle is driven at 64 kmph and with 40% overlap into a deformable barrier which represents an oncoming vehicle. This replicates a crash between two cars of the same weight.

The other tests are side impact test at 50 kmph and pole-side impact test (where a car is crashed into a rigid pole sideways) at 29 kmph.

The process of obtaining a star rating involves an original equipment manufacturer nominating a vehicle model for testing, after which Bharat NCAP representatives will visit the manufacturing facility or a dealer outlet to select the base variant of the model through random sampling and send it to a testing centre in co-ordination with the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT). Once the test results are compiled, they will be approved by the Bharat NCAP Standing Committee and published on the website of the Bharat NCAP and a certificate issued by the CIRT.

The programme is voluntary except in certain cases such as a base variant of a popular vehicle model (minimum clocked sale of 30,000 units), or when the Ministry recommends a model for testing based on market feedback or in the interest of public safety.

“We are building access-controlled highways on a large scale, which means the speed of transportation is increasing. We have the highest number of road fatalities at 1.5 lakh fatalities [annually] even though we have second highest number of accidents after the U.S. And these fatalities are taking place at a lower speed [than other countries]. Why does this happen? What is the difference between the cars running on European and American roads and in India. I hope Bharat NCAP will give a new direction to our industry,” said Anurag Jain, Secretary, Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

Crash investigations carried out by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation have shown that passenger compartment intrusion played a key role in 62% of fatal car crashes probed, seat deformation in 34% of crashes, and missing safe braking tech in 30% of car accidents investigated, according to its CEO, Piyush Tewari.

Therefore, Mr. Tewari said, “Bharat NCAP will ensure fewer casualties and injuries, lessening the strain on healthcare and insurance sectors and fostering a positive societal impact by reducing trauma caused by road traffic injuries and deaths.”

Mr. Tewari added that manufacturers too would benefit from enhancing their brand reputation through consumer-centric practices and enjoy higher consumer loyalty.

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