The ARAI regulation now states that measurement of ground clearance should take vehicle’s laden weight into account as it is under these conditions that suspension of vehicles compress. This means that when OEMs calculate the ground clearance, they should calculate the weight when 4 average adults are seated in the car, and a minimum of 90% fuel in the tank. This should add about 400 kgs to the car’s weight when the GC is being measured.
This rule will now apply to all cars sold in the country, thus bringing down GC values of each and every car in India. This is one reason that a 4×4 SUV like Tiguan as a listed GC of just 149 mm, whereas in Europe it has GC of 189 mm.
This is because rules in global markets to calculate ground clearance of the vehicle are still the same – should be measured in unladen conditions. Another example is new Toyota Fortuner. In Australia it has a ground clearance of 225mm while the same model in India sports ground clearance of 184mm.
This change in rule was brought about in 2013 Union Budget wherein an additional 3% tax was imposed on all vehicles with ground clearance above 170 mm. To ensure that SUVs such as the XUV500 and Scorpio skirted this rule to save additional tax, Mahindra and Mahindra adjusted the stone guard on these vehicles. ARAI then changed the rule back to the older method of calculating ground clearance on laden weight bringing all vehicles under this gambit.
Especially on Indian roads, ground clearance plays a very significant role. Higher speed breakers, uneven roads and rubble and rocks on roads cause untold damage to vehicles. In the case of higher ground clearance, the car’s underbody does not get hit by these hindrances and thereby leads to lower maintenance.