Home / Auto News / Do we need a homegrown crash-test for vehicles?

The government is planning a new car assessment programme (NCAP) in India, to be called the Bharat NCAP or BNCAP. This will rate cars on the basis of how they perform in a series of crash tests. Mint explains why India needs its own crash test rating.

Why does India need to crash-test vehicles?

Indian vehicles have historically not been crash-tested in the country. Despite being home to only 1% of the world’s vehicles, India shoulders 11% of the global road crash fatality burden, according to the non-profit SaveLife Foundation. In 2019, India recorded 59 deaths per 100,000 registered passenger four-wheelers, over six times higher than the corresponding number in the US. A key reason is that vehicles sold in India are often sub-par in terms of safety features like the requisite number of airbags, and have unstable structures, unable to protect their occupants in the event of a road crash.

What about existing testing standards?

India’s Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR) mandate a safety and performance assessment, including a basic conformity crash test by agencies like the ARAI and ICAT when vehicles go in for type approvals. However, this does not involve a crash test rating. Many international automakers have been found to sell products in India which score much lower on safety and structural performance parameters in crash tests when compared to the same cars that are exported to global markets. This is done to reduce costs in the price-sensitive Indian market. However, safety is moving up the list of key purchase criteria in India as well.

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How will a homegrown NCAP help?

Global NCAP (GNCAP) crash tests for many best-selling Indian vehicles have dismal ratings, many of them rated zero in providing front, child and passenger protection. The government hopes that by facilitating these tests by in-house agencies, more automakers will voluntarily undergo safety assessment and build vehicles that hold up to global standards.

How will it compare with GNCAP?

The government wants the two tests to be in congruence with each other and intends to design the BNCAP to resemble the GNCAP, the global gold standard, as closely as possible, including the speed for crash testing at 64kmph. Central Motor Vehicle rules encompass standards with respect to pedestrian protection and seat belt reminders among others, and will be retained in the testing under the BNCAP. The government hopes the move will increase the export-worthiness of Indian automobiles.

Will this help the cause of road safety?

A small number of manufacturers test their vehicles under GNCAP and use it as a unique marketing point. If BNCAP turns popular, more may be encouraged to volunteer their vehicles for tests, even though there may be initial resistance. “Even though crash test investigation needs to improve, the data currently available suggests that the chances of death or injury in crashes are much higher in frail vehicles than those crash tested and safety-rated," Piyush Tewari, founder, SaveLife Foundation said.




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