But not how you may have expected. Maruti Suzuki Chairman, Mr. R C Bhargava has cautioned the Indian government on adhering to Global NCAP safety measures. Bhargava is of the opinion that while Global NCAP’s safety measures mandate safety features which include both airbags and ABS on each car be it top level or entry-level models if imposed, this could work as a deterrent and in fact lead to less road safety in the long run.
Introduction of safety features such as air bags and ABS on entry level cars will escalate pricing to such an extent that first time buyers will rather opt for two wheelers instead. This would lead to less safety on Indian roads. Buyers in the country who graduate from a two wheeler to an entry level car have the cost factor in mind.
Added safety features in a car will push up pricing significantly when looking at an entry level car that will e costlier by about Rs 40,000 for a car that costs about Rs 2.5 lakhs, taking price upto about Rs 3 lakh. Increased pricing is the basis of reasoning provided, which would apparently discourage first time buyers. Resultantly once these buyers postpone a car buying decision or instead buy a two wheeler, risk of accident increases. This thought is based on the fact that that it isn’t proved that unsafe cars are the reason for higher road fatalities.
One would think that would be a matter of common sense. If not then by instinct, who in their right mind wouldn’t feel safer in a car where airbags will deploy rather than risk steering wheel impact, which is enough to shatter one’s rib cage. Of course, India lacks many crucial governing bodies related to road safety. It’s almost as though the government has suddenly woken up to the need of road safety. In fact India, still doesn’t have a regulatory body that will hold an auto manufacturer responsible for car defects, and clarity in car recall is still as dense as a grey cloud. In fact even auto advertising in India focuses on mileage and cosmetic features rather than pointing the buyer towards making a decision based on safety.