September 28, 2023

Bharat NCAP | Transforming India's Car Industry with Safety

 In September 2022, the road, transport, and highway minister of India Mr. Nitin Gadkari told all the car makers in India to stop selling unsafe cars to poor Indians. Nitin Gadkari said this because the secretary of the road, transport, and highway minister of India, Mr. Anurag Jain said that all the deaths happening due to road accidents in India have been observed at a speed less than that of the other countries. This means that if any car met with an accident in Europe due to high-speed, still, there are fewer chances that the occupant would die. But the chances of a fatal accident are higher in India even at low speeds.

Bharat NCAP | Safety | India | Auto Industry | 1 October 2023 | Nitin Gadkari

But why is this so?

This is because the cars running in the US and Europe are safer in comparison to India and we have discussed it many times in the past that the cars that have a 5-star rating in Europe. The same models have got 2–3-star ratings in India. An Indian NGO has even cleared this fact an NGO named “Save Life”. When investigating the crash accidents that happened in India, they found in 66% of the accidents that the passenger compartments in the car have been impacted as well seats were deformed in 34% of the cases and 30% of the accidents were a result of absence of safety braking system in the cars.

What is Bharat NCAP?

The Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP) is a game-changer for India's automotive industry. It signifies a monumental shift in prioritizing safety standards in vehicle manufacturing. By rigorously testing and rating cars for their safety, it empowers consumers to make informed choices, ultimately leading to safer roads and reducing accidents. This revolutionary program elevates the safety bar for cars in India, saving lives and enhancing road safety.

Why are large quantities of unsafe cars being sold in India?

So, the question arises, India has the 3rd largest car market in the world, Why unsafe cars are being sold in huge numbers in India? The biggest reason behind this is the absence of India's own dedicated car assessment program. As you might have observed some of the bigger countries or groups of smaller countries have their own assessment programs, like NCAPs Latin, NCAP for Latin America, CNCAP in China, USNCAP and IIHS for the US, and European NCAP in Europe.

But in the year 2022, Mr. Nitin Gadkari said “It is highly essential for the cars that are getting sold in India to be assessed in Bharat NCAP because many lives are lost in India due to road accidents”. It also hampers the Indian economy because the people who lost their lives in road accidents are youngsters in the majority of the cases and these are the future of India. This is why Bharat NCAP will become fully operational from October 2023 and the most surprising fact is that all the major car brands in India, have already sent around 30 cars for testing all the mass market car brands have given statements in support of the Bharat NCAP.

Whether it is Hyundai, TATA Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra, Kia, or Skoda everybody is in support of Bharat NCAP and even Maruti Suzuki has said to support this initiative not only this, the executive officer of Maruti Suzuki, Mr. Rahul Bharti has said that Maruti Suzuki has already sent at least three of their cars for testing at Bharat NCAP.

But do you know, the active participation of Maruti Suzuki in this program, which is sending three cars together for testing? Is a very surprising fact, do you know why I am saying this? Because Bharat NCAP is not mandatory and through this statement, I mean that achieving a certain Bharat NCAP rating to sell cars in India is not at all mandatory. Even the brand could also choose not to send any of its cars. It's totally up to the brand whether it sends any vehicle for testing or not. This is because the job of Bharat NCAP is only to provide details to the public about the number of ratings any particular vehicle has achieved. It has become similar to the warnings written on any cigarette pack. But smoking and chewing tobacco is not at all illegal.

Is Ncap really necessary? 

Now it is not like this is the case with the Bharat NCAP only NCAP ratings are not made mandatory anywhere in the world. This means any brand can sell its vehicles without these ratings as well whether it is Euro NCAP or the American IIHS and that's why I have said that the momentary participation of Maruti Suzuki in this program and sending three of its cars for testing together is a massive fact. We observed that the performance of Maruti Suzuki in the Global NCAP has always remained poor and no magic is going to be observed in the Bharat NCAP. Because almost every testing that would be done in Bharat NCAP would follow the norms completely. As it is done in the Global NCAP testing this is because Bharat NCAP has been associated with the Global NCAP And that's why I am not going to discuss every point.

This article is not related to How Bharat NCAP is good or poor concerning Global NCAP. Or how does Bharat NCAP stand in front of Global NCAP? If you want to know about that there are ample numbers of articles on Google and even there are several videos about that on YouTube as well you can refer to them.

The main purpose of this article is that when Bharat NCAP is exactly similar to the global NCAP, and it is not mandatory as well why are so many car makers especially Maruti Suzuki participating actively in this program? Poor ratings can hamper their reputation as well, 

There are primarily two reasons for this:

1. The cost of testing is the first reason we need to discuss Global NCAP.

At Global NCAP, the procurement of vehicles is done in two ways. In one way, Global NCAP takes the vehicle anonymously from the showroom and then they test the vehicle. But it is done only when OEMs deny to provide their vehicles for testing. Like, Maruti Suzuki denied providing its cars for testing, but the majority of the car makers sent their cars for testing. Because they know in advance that their cars will perform better and every car maker from India to Germany is included. 

In this process, an executive from the Global NCAP randomly selects a car from the production line. Then the brand sends the car to the UK bearing all the costs. The car is tested in the UK three to four units of any vehicle are taken. The cost of those units, the cost of transportation of sending the cars from India to the UK, the expenses of the manpower used in the crash tests, and the cost of facilities that are going to be used. Every type of expense is to be borne by the car manufacturer and this cost is in the range of a few crores. As I have heard it takes around INR 2-3 crores. 

The cost also depends on the car And now if we talk about the Bharat NCAP. The way of procurement of cars by Bharat NCAP is exactly similar to the path of Global NCAP. Every piece of expense is to be born by the manufacturer here as well. But there lies a difference here and it is that Unlike the Global NCAP, the cars would not be sent to the UK now. But to do this, already 6-8 government-certified test centers have already been inaugurated in India. These are situated near the different auto-hubs in India Like Gurugram, Chennai, and Pune. The test centers are situated near these sites. It has been estimated that this will reduce the expense of the car manufacturer by almost 75%. This was the minor reason car manufacturers actively participated in the Bharat NCAP program.

2. Public trust in the government and car makers' advertising are the main reasons.

Due to this as discussed earlier in this article in the major car markets. The cars don't need to get a certain number of ratings in the NCAP. But still, the cars available in those markets are highly safe and the biggest reason behind this is the public's trust in these ratings. In the majority of the car markets, NCAPs were introduced many decades ago like IIHS. It was made by many insurance companies in the US. This organization became active in the year 1959 and in the year 1995, this organization also started front-end crash testing, and then gradually, many NCAPs were introduced Euro NCAP was introduced in the year 1986 and A-NCAP was introduced in the year 1983. The benefit of the early introduction of these NCAPs was that the customers of cars in these countries became highly educated about the importance of car safety. It was also because the governments of these countries were supporting these organizations and people trusted their government more than any random organization. 

Similar could be observed with Global NCAP in India and that's why without any governmental forced mandate. Only safe cars are being sold in these countries because the people in these countries don't want to buy any unsafe car and if you want an example, you can look at the recently launched Scorpio-N in Australia. When this car was launched in Australia this car was reviewed by the media of Australia. They had provided this Verdict. If you are one of those people who puts safety as one of your top priorities when it comes to buying a new car. Especially in 2023, then it not might be right for you this is probably something that disappoints me about this car there is no autonomous emergency braking. The fact that it doesn't come with any active safety is a real letdown, especially in 2023 and if this is your family car, you want your car to be as safe as possible.

Reviews of Australia

Australian reviewers are criticizing Mahindra and Mahindra for not providing a high-end safety feature like ADAS in a family car. Even though this car is available in Australia at a price of half that of Everest the Fortuner Scorpio-N competes with this car neck-to-neck. Still, they are highly concerned regarding this and in India, ADAS is not provided in 90% of the cars, and from here we can understand that due to the presence of A-NCAP in Australia for many years. The people of Australia are highly concerned about the safety features provided in cars. 

A similar is going to be observed with the Bharat NCAP in India Because here the government is testing the vehicles and now people would become highly aware of the safety provided in cars in India. Therefore, they would demand their car manufacturers to provide the government safety level sticker on the car and this is the main reason behind providing so many cars together in a short period Companies like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai are also participating in this program. Because they know that they used to ignore the Global NCAP, they would not be able to deny Bharat NCAP because the Indian government is involved in this and I believe if every brand starts providing its car to Bharat NCAP considering it to be mandatory.

Maruti Suzuki testing for Bharat NCAP

Maruti Suzuki would also be forced to provide its cars as well in the future This can lead to two things – Either their sales would decline sharply because of poor ratings or they could become the car brand with the best safety ratings. But still, I believe that Bharat NCAP should have been made mandatory or at least some points should be made to be followed strictly like if any car obtains less than two stars. That car would not be allowed for sale in the market. The car companies that completely neglect the safety features in their cars would definitely need to follow these rules. Do let me know in the comment section whether you agree with me or not 

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