Nitin Gadkari approves draft of Bharat-NCAP car safety rating system


Union Road Transport and Highways Minister on Friday approved the draft notification introducing Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) for Indian cars, which will be accorded “star ratings” based on their performance in crash tests and on other safety parameters once the rule is finalised.

This will be the first for India’s car market, which does not have safety ratings.

It’s not immediately clear whether these ratings will be mandatory. Auto firms in India follow AIS-145 (automotive Indian standard-145), which enforces safety features for vehicles such as seatbelts tell-tale, passenger airbags, and the speed limit alarm. This standard has created changes in the Indian automotive industry and was enforced first in July 2019.

The BNCAP’s draft, which has 197 pages, heavily borrows from the Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP). Over the years, the star rating awarded by the autonomous body in different countries has become an important benchmark in terms of how safe a vehicle is.

Rohit Balluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, who has been instrumental in bringing the GNCAP to India, said while this was a welcome move by the government and the rating would be an important source of information for car buyers in India, “it would have served better if it was an autonomous body and not part of an authority much the same way it’s in other auto markets”.

It also needs to collaborate with other stakeholders such as insurance companies and citizen welfare groups, as is the practice elsewhere.

The GNCAP has been testing for the Indian market since 2014 under its “Safer for India” programme. The programme aims to promote the sale of safer in developing markets by empowering consumers with information about the safety of vehicles.

“Bharat-NCAP will serve as a consumer-centric platform, allowing customers to opt for safer cars based on their star-ratings, while promoting healthy competition among OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in India to manufacture safer vehicles,” the minister said in a series of tweets.

Shashank Srivastava, executive director, Maruti Suzuki India, said: “For Maruti Suzuki safety is priority. All our products meet the regulatory requirements and beyond. So we welcome the new steps regarding BNCAP and will be keenly study the details for a smooth implementation.”

“This would mean that auto companies that have not been giving enough importance to GNCAP ratings will now have little option but to fall in line,” said an official at a car company.

India ranks top in the world in terms of the number of persons killed and third on the injury list, Gadkari had said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha in April. On Thursday, the Mahindra XUV700 received the “Safer Choice” award from the Global NCAP.


What is Global NCAP?

The US was the first country to start a programme that provided information on with regard to crashes to customers in 1978. Later, a number of similar programmes were started across regions. In 2011, a UK-based charity Towards Zero Foundation formed the Global NCAP to enhance cooperation among the various NCAPs.

How are cars tested?

The protocol varies among NCAPs. According to draft noticiation, evaluation is based on full vehicle crash test in three categories — adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, & safety assist technologies. Tests: Offset deformable barrier frontal impact test, side impact test, and pole side impact test.

How is BNCAP aligned with GNCAP?

Bharat NCAP’s testing protocol to be aligned with global crash-test protocols keeping in mind the Indian regulations. Auto firms in India currently follow AIS-145, which enforces safety features to vehicles.

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