This piece of news is of gargantuan proportions. A court in the northeastern state of Assam has banned the launch and sale of small cars that don’t meet crash-test norms in the state in response to petitions that sought to make vehicles safer. These vehicles include Maruti Suzuki’s Alto and Swift, Hyundai Motor Company’s i10 and EON and Honda Motor Company’s Jazz.
The petitioners said crash tests such as the Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), which are followed in Europe and developed markets, should apply to cars sold in Assam because higher safety standards are required in mountainous regions. The court agreeing with the petitioner brought the hammer down on these cars, leaving the automobile industry shell shocked.
“The Centre is directed not to permit the auto manufacturers to release and sell the small four-wheelers with a mass up to 1,500 kg and quadricycles without putting them to crash test and emission test,” the court said in the interim order. A total of 140 models has been affected by this order.
This ban has almost killed the small car market as the majority of the cars sold are either of these models. The bigger SUV’s have passed the test and are available for sale. The car companies are challenging the order individually and also through the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex body governing all the rules and regulations regarding vehicles manufactured and sold in India.
This is an important verdict from the court and we want to believe this order will be a precursor to the changes ought to happen in the Indian automobile industry. We are aware that these crash testing facilities are not available in India and the auto companies have until 2017 to comply with more stringent norms of safety. Having said that, we at AutoColumn would urge the government to make fitting of ABS , ESC , Airbags etc mandatory which would reduce the probability of crash. These aids would certainly increase the cost of the car, but it would be worth it!