Indian government withdraws requirement for mandatory airbags in cars, leaving safety ratings to determine market demand.
After pushing for six mandatory airbags to be installed in all cars from 1 October, the government withdrew that requirement. Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said that it doesn’t want to make it compulsory since India’s own safety testing programme, the BNCAP, is now in place, and it would not award attractive safety ratings to cars without enough airbags. By implication, it has been left to the market to determine if fewer airbags are okay at the market’s lower end, where price sensitivity is high, and the cost bump-up of these installations may put buyers off. Yet, safety consciousness has been rising in India, so BNCAP ratings could make under-equipped vehicles harder to sell. As the trade-offs that customers are willing to make cannot be second-guessed by rule-makers, demand patterns with wide choices available may soon have a story to tell about Indian buyer priorities. In general, it’s prudent to set minimum safety standards for vehicles that all must meet, and then let people’s choices prevail on the finer details of features. For safety, seatbelts are low-cost and high-security. Airbags are seen as less worthy, but perhaps ratings could change that.
Milestone Alert!Livemint tops charts as the fastest growing news website in the world 🌏 Click here to know more.