Maruti Suzuki, India’s top carmaker, wants the government to review a proposal to make six airbags mandatory in passenger vehicles, citing its impact on the price-sensitive entry-level car segment.
- Airbags soften the impact of collisions by keeping occupants from coming into contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, front glass, and other parts of the automobile.
- In January 2022, Union Road Transport Minister said that “In order to enhance the safety of the occupants in motor vehicles carrying upto 8 passengers, I have now approved a Draft GSR Notification to make a minimum of 6 Airbags compulsory.” No timelines were mentioned then.
- Dual airbags (driver and passenger) became mandatory on all vehicles this January. A driver airbag has been compulsory for all passenger vehicles since July 1, 2019.
- Additional airbags are proposed in the ‘M1’ category of vehicles, with the aim of minimising the impact of “frontal and lateral collisions” to the occupants of both the front and rear compartments. As per the proposal, two side or side torso airbags, and two side curtain or tube airbags covering all outboard passengers, will be made mandatory.
What is an ‘M1’ vehicle?
- Under the government’s homologation rules, vehicles are bucketed into broad categories.
- ‘Category M’ covers motor vehicles with at least four wheels, used for carrying passengers.
- Sub-category ‘M1’ defines “a motor vehicle used for the carriage of passengers, comprising not more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat”. This category effectively subsumes the bulk of the passenger vehicles on India’s roads.
- Homologation is the process of certifying that a particular vehicle is roadworthy, and matches certain specified criteria laid down by the government for all vehicles that are built or imported into the country.