India to have its own automobile crash test programme

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on: Jun 24, 2022
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari | Photo Credit: -

Bharat NCAP will provide star rating for cars based on tests; extremely crucial, says Gadkari

India is soon going to set up its domestic testing authority under Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), which will provide star ratings to vehicles based on their performance in crash tests. The government on Friday approved the draft notification to introduce Bharat NCAP, a crash test programme, wherein automobile manufacturers can send their vehicles to get the crash-test ratings.

“I have now approved the draft GSR notification to introduce Bharat NCAP, wherein automobiles in India shall be accorded star ratings based on their performance in crash tests,” Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said.

The programme will serve as a consumer-centric platform allowing customers to opt for safer cars based on their star ratings, while promoting a healthy competition among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India to manufacture safer vehicles, he said.

He added that such a rating is ‘extremely crucial’ not only to ensure structural and passenger safety in cars, but to also increase the export-worthiness of Indian automobiles.

Selling point

Till now, manufacturers were doing it on a voluntary basis at their research labs or used to send the cars to independent agencies (third party) like Global NCAP in United Kingdom to avail star ratings. While the Centre’s front offset test is conducted at 56 kmph, same as European standards, Global NCAP does it at 64 kmph.

In the recent years too, it has become a selling point for manufacturers and companies like Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Tata Motors which have been sending their vehicles to Global NCAP for crash tests and have gotten five-star ratings for some of their newly launched products like the Tata Nexon, Punch and M&M’s XUV300 and XUV700.

‘Safety, a priority’

However, the country’s largest passenger carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), has been following the Indian standards and its products like Alto, SPresso, WagonR and Swift have gotten poor ratings at Global NCAP crash tests.

In February, MSIL’s then MD and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa had said, “Global NCAP is an organisation and not a regulator. The Indian and European regulations are exactly the same in frontal offset norm, side impact norm and pedestrian impact norm. India is at par with Europe in crash test norms and we are already there (meeting the norms).”

Although companies will come out with structured responses to the draft rules later, Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), MSIL, told BusinessLine, safety has always been their priority, and will continue to remain so. MSIL has its own crash testing lab at the company’s R&D centre in Rohtak, Haryana.

Testing protocol

The testing protocol of Bharat NCAP will be aligned with global crash test protocols factoring in the existing Indian regulations, allowing OEMs to get their vehicles tested at India’s own in-house testing facilities, Gadkari said. “Bharat NCAP will prove to be a critical instrument in making our automobile industry Aatmanirbhar with the mission of making India the No. 1 automobile hub in the world,” he added.

According to analysts, Bharat NCAP is clearly a step forward for India to get in par with global automobile standards as India did not have such rating agencies until now. Agencies like the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) do not provide star ratings or certifications on crash tests.

Choosing right product

“The government is clearly aspirational in terms of elevating the standards for cars in the last few years. India is the fifth biggest car market in the world and proactiveness in terms of bringing in regulations will force our suppliers and OEMs to make the best with high standards in the country,” Puneet Gupta, Director at IHS Markit told BusinessLine.

Safety is utmost important and Bharat NCAP new norms will help customers compare and choose the right product due to high transparency and standards, he added.

“Bharat-NCAP should help car buyers easily evaluate safety standards/features provided by vehicle manufactures and make informed decisions. The fact that these testing protocols will be aligned with global crash test standards will also benefit automotive exports,” said Vinay Raghunath, partner and automotive sector leader, EY India.

Published on June 24, 2022
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