New Delhi, September 13

In a major relief to the automobile industry, the government said on Wednesday that the six airbags in passenger cars will not be made mandatory .

“We don’t need to make it mandatory...everyone [car companies] is doing it, and some of them are making advertisements and getting good share [in sales], and those who don’t want to do it, they are pressing them [cars with 6 airbags in sales]...if they want good sales, they have to make six airbags, and if they don’t want to make it, it is their problem. We don’t want to make it mandatory,” said Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

Speaking at the annual session of Automotive Components Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), he said the Star rating and Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) rating will be sufficient to judge the safety of cars by the customers.

When asked about the status of the regulation, which was supposed to kick off from October 1, and if it has been finalised as some of the manufacturers are geared up for it, Gadkari said: “Bharat NCAP star rating has already started. Now, the manufacturers who are giving six airbags [as standard]...they will get more market share. They are already accepted by the market.”

Referring to Maruti Suzuki India without naming it, which still has some reservations about providing six airbags as standard in its cars, including Alto and S-Presso, Gadkari said it is up to the company and the decision lies with them.

“One company, they may have some reservations, it is up to them...whether you want to do it or not, we leave it you. But, now people are cautious, and whatever the economic model, , people prefer to take a car that has six airbags. So, it is up to the market and now it is the manufacturers and people who can decide, so we leave it to them,” Gadkari added.

Commenting on the announcement made by Gadkari, a leading car manufacturer said that most passenger cars, especially those priced ₹8 lakh and above, come with six airbags as standard now, and they will also do the same for future models.

“From the safety point of view, a lot of features are getting added, and getting six airbags as standard has become a norm for us now. The passenger cars come with an occupant detection system, and also a three-point seatbelt for the middle passenger at the rear seat,” said a senior official with a leading company.

Companies such as Hyundai Motor India recently launched its Exter small SUV with six airbags as standard, and its small car Grand i10 Nios also comes with four airbags as standard.

In January 2022, in a draft notification, the MoRTH had decided to enhance safety features of occupants of motor vehicles against lateral impact by making six airbags mandatory in all M1 category vehicles.

According to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989, M1 category of vehicles refers to passenger cars with a maximum of eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat and includes hatchbacks, sedans, multi/ sports utility vehicles (MUVs/SUVs).

However, on September 29, 2022 Gadkari announced for extending the deadline to another one year (October 1, 2023) as car manufacturers were going through supply chain issues.

“Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of six airbags in passenger cars (M-1 Category) from October 1, 2023,” he had said.