The government has worked out quality control norms for automobile wheel rims sold in the country to keep a check on import of sub-standard products and boost domestic manufacturing. The comments of the World Trade Organisation member countries on the matter have been sought within the next 30 days.

The draft Automobile Wheel Rim Component (Quality Control) Order, 2020, issued by the Department of Heavy Industries, makes it mandatory for all rims sold domestically, including imports, to be certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards, an official told BusinessLine .

“India has notified the draft order on wheel rims at the World Trade Organisation and has sought comments of members on it within the next 30 days,” the official said. The order is to come into effect from October 1, 2020.

Ensuring road safety

While the proposed move is important to ensure greater road safety, it is also in line with the Centre’s stated policy of formulating technical regulations such as safety and quality standards for over 350 products to curb imports of non-essential items.

“It is important to ensure that only wheel rims that meet certain quality specifications are sold in the country as road safety is very important. But the quality order may also act as a disincentive for imports and give a boost to ‘Make in India’. So it serves a dual purpose,” the official said.

As per the draft quality order, for all wheel rims used in two-wheelers, three-wheelers, e-rickshaws, e-carts, passenger cars, trucks and buses, the BIS should be the certifying agency for the given Indian standards.

Quality control

Over the last few months, similar quality control orders have been issued for a number of products such as toys, steel products and cables.

The EU has been opposing the imposition of mandatory BIS testing of steel product imports by India and had demanded that New Delhi accept the tests carried out in foreign-accredited laboratories attesting compliance with Indian standards. India, however, argued that international standards are insufficient and the BIS standards must be adhered to with respect to the manufacturing practices adopted in India.

India’s notification to the WTO on wheel rims published on May 25 stated that it was a critical part, influencing driving safety. “These Indian standards have been prepared to ensure quality, reliability and consistency required, keeping in view human safety and consumer protection,” it said.

To encourage local production of wheel rims, the government last year came up with an order stating that electric vehicle and hybrid manufacturers must localise the manufacture of wheel rims integrated with hub motors to qualify for subsidies.