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Road ministry proposes compulsory airbag for front seat passengers in cars; could increase prices by Rs 5,000-8,000

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Road ministry proposes compulsory airbag for front seat passengers in cars; could increase prices by Rs 5,000-8,000

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The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has proposed making it mandatory for airbags to be provided for the passenger seated on the front seat of a vehicle, next to the driver.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has proposed making it mandatory for airbags to be provided for the passenger seated on the front seat of a vehicle, next to the driver. The proposed timelines for implementation are 01st April 2021 for new models and 01st June 2021 for existing models. A draft notification to this effect has been published on the Ministry's website.

“It is a major step towards road safety. Automobile manufacturers are already offering the option of dual front airbags and so they know the importance of this aspect. We now propose to make it mandatory across models and variants. Stakeholders can send their suggestions in the next thirty days”, said a senior official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The MoRTH had already made the drivers’ seat airbag compulsory in 2019.
The Federation of Automobile Dealers has welcomed the proposal for a mandatory airbag for the front passenger seat. Vinkesh Gulati, the President of FADA said the proposal was a good idea but expressed concern about a second price increase in four months. Almost all manufacturers have announced an increase in vehicle prices from January on account of rising steel and raw material costs.
According to industry sources, compulsory provision of an airbag in the front passenger seat could increase the price of entry-level models of cars like Wagon-R, Alto, Kwid, Santro and the S-Presso by Rupees 5000-8000. “Proposed timelines are short and will require a realignment of production plans and supply chain requirements. Addressing additional demand for airbags in a short period will be a challenge”, said an industry executive.
Reacting to the development, RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki said, “It will not be technically difficult to implement at all. Most manufacturers today are giving a second airbag as an option anyway. It could be a problem with supply chains. For those who are not taking the option of a second airbag, the cost will go up. There will be a price impact on some customers of lower-priced cars”
Bhargava also emphasized that the Ministry of Road Transport must look at strict enforcement of rules regarding the wearing of seat belts. “In case of an accident, a passenger can suffer serious injury due to an airbag, if not wearing a seatbelt. Therefore, it's absolutely necessary for customers to wear seatbelts if dual front airbags are being made mandatory”, he said.
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