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Mandatory front passenger airbags in vehicles likely to increase prices

So far, the government had only mandated that a car be equipped with a driver airbag, and as such most of the bottom-end variants of entry level cars like the Maruti Suzuki Spresso, the Renault Kwid, Hyundai Santro etc all offer a driver airbag as standard, while a front passenger airbag comes as an optional extra.

Mandatory front passenger airbags in vehicles likely to increase prices
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Mandatory front passenger airbags in vehicles likely to increase prices

So far, the government had only mandated that a car be equipped with a driver airbag, and as such most of the bottom-end variants of entry level cars like the Maruti Suzuki Spresso, the Renault Kwid, Hyundai Santro etc all offer a driver airbag as standard, while a front passenger airbag comes as an optional extra.

The rule states that all new vehicles which are to be sold post April 1st, must be equipped with a front passenger airbag, while existing models get an extended deadline till the 31st of August, 2021.

Maruti Suzuki, which has once again topped the sales charts, having sold seven out of the ten largest selling cars in India, sells all base level variants of models like the Swift, Baleno, WagonR and the Alto (the top four largest selling cars in February, 2021).

While this has allowed the brands to sell their cars at much lower costs, it has also allowed local manufacturers like Mahindra and Tata Motors to edge out their competitors on the safety front. Not only have the brands secured four star ratings at the recent GlobalNCAP safety assessment, base variants of cars like the Tata Tiago and the Mahindra KUV100 come with a passenger airbag as standard.

Even European carmakers with a strong presence in the entry-level, budget hatchback market, have been complicit in ignoring front passenger safety, as it allows them to compete with existing dominant players, selling cars at a low price point.

This may be a steep increment for those on a tight budget, but the move by the government is a welcome one as this could bring down the alarmingly large number of on-road casualties in India.

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