India will require all passenger cars to have a minimum of six airbags from Oct. 1, 2023, a year later than originally planned, the road transport minister said on Sep 29.
The move, aimed at improving safety in a country that has the world’s deadliest roads, was initially planned for Oct. 1, 2022, but faced resistance from some carmakers.
“Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario” the rules will be implemented from October 2023, Nitin Gadkari said.
Draft airbag rules were made public in January and were expected to be finalised a month later but faced resistance from carmakers including Maruti Suzuki.
Maruti said the move would increase vehicle prices and drive out a chunk of buyers.
In India, the world’s fourth-largest car market, the majority of cars sold are priced below $15,000.
Two airbags – one each for the driver and front passenger – are already mandatory. The government estimates adding four more would cost no more than $75. Auto market data provider JATO Dynamics, however, estimates it could increase costs by at least $231.
Several carmakers typically offer six airbags in higher, pricier variants, but not the base model.
“Safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority,” Gadkari said.
Mandating six airbags is part of a renewed push by the road transport ministry to improve safety after Cyrus Mistry, the former chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Sons, died in a recent car crash.
India had a death on its roads every four minutes, the World Bank said last year.
Gadkari told Reuters earlier in September he hoped efforts to improve road safety would halve road accidents and deaths by the end of 2024.