Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in its latest gazette notification has made dual front airbags compulsory on all cars. While all new vehicles launched after 1 April 2021 are required to be equipped with dual front airbags as standard, automakers have till 1 August 2021 to equip the existing models with standard dual front airbags. The government had already made driver side airbag compulsory back in July 2019.
The latest regulation won’t really affect the majority of cars in India as they are already offered with dual front airbags as standard. That said, it will affect the majority of the entry-level cars which are currently being offered with a driver-side airbag as standard while offering passenger-side airbag as an optional extra in some variants. Some cars that miss out on standard dual front airbags include Maruti Alto, Maruti S Presso, Maruti Celerio, Maruti WagonR, Maruti Eeco, Renault Kwid, Datsun redi-GO, Hyundai Santro and Mahindra Bolero.
The introduction of a passenger-side airbag on these models should result in a price hike of around Rs 8,000. The new rule further states that the co-driver airbag will have to conform to the AIS 145 (Automotive Industry Standards) safety norms until specifications are not specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
With the introduction of the new norm, the list for standard safety features has gotten longer. It now includes dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, high-speed alert system and front seat belt reminder. We would have appreciated if ISOFIX child anchors were also made compulsory on all cars. That said, the government is said to be mulling over making active safety features like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and electronic stability control compulsory on all cars. If this happens, expect the prices of the cars to go up significantly.