Small or entry-level cars that are mostly purchased by lower middle-class people also need to have adequate number of airbags for protection, union minister Nitin Gadkari said in a PTI interview. He appealed to all vehicle manufacturers to provide at least six airbags across all variants and segments of small economy cars.
He added that his appeal for more airbags in small economy cars was to ensure safety and prevent possible deaths in cases of accidents. He also acknowledged that additional airbags in small cars will increase their cost by at least ₹3,000-4,000, adding, “In our country, poor should also get protection (in case of road accidents)”.
He wondered why auto makers are providing eight airbags only in big cars bought by rich people, saying, “For rich people, you (auto makers) offer eight airbags, and for economy model cars (used by lower middle-class people), you will offer only two-three airbags. How come?”.
His remarks come against the backdrop of the automobile industry raising concerns that high taxation and stricter safety and emission norms for vehicles have made their products expensive.
In June this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had extended the deadline for mandatory installation of dual front airbags in existing car models by four months to December 31, 2021. The deadline was extended in the light of the coronavirus pandemic that the country continues to reel under. For newer models, the rule was already made mandatory from April 1, 2021. For existing models, only the driver’s seat airbag is mandatory at present.
The Indian government, in March, had announced the mandatory provision of dual airbags in front row in all cars manufactured and sold in India in a bid to promote passenger safety in cars.