Following industry pushback, the government on Thursday deferred its decision on mandatory six airbags in passenger vehicles by a year until October 1, 2023.
“Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of six airbags in passenger cars (M-1 Category) with effect from 1st October 2023,” Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari posted on Twitter.
In January, his Ministry issued a draft notification requiring all new cars sold in India to have six airbags from October 1, 2022.
The Minister, however, reiterated, “safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority.”
M1 category of vehicles are used for the carriage of passengers, comprising not more than eight eats in addition to the driver’s seat, and includes hatchbacks, sedans as well as SUVs.
The postponement follows stiff opposition from the likes of Maruti Chairman R. C. Bhargava, who had said that the decision will force the company to withdraw its small cars from the market as they will become financially unviable, make cars out of reach of common man as well as lead to increase in unemployment in the auto sector.
He had also said that the implementation of BS VI norms had already pushed up costs resulting in a 28% decline in sales of small cars.
Reacting to the government’s decision on Thursday, Mr. Bhargava told The Hindu that the industry has been seeking postponement of the rules as the October 1, 2022 deadline didn’t give the industry sufficient time to comply. “The government has recognised the validity of what we are saying and they have shown support for the industry,” he said.
Asked if the new timeline was acceptable to the industry, Mr. Bhargava said that it will be sufficient for some but not all models. “Many cars, especially smaller cars, which don’t have space to accommodate the airbags will require body change. Body change is like making a new model,” he said.