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Bharat New Car Assessment Programme

  • 25 Aug 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Bharat New Car Assessment Programme, Global NCAP, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

For Mains: Positive Outcomes and Challenges Related to Bharat NCAP.

Source: TH

Why in News?

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, has introduced the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP).

  • This indigenous star-rating system aims to evaluate the safety of vehicles in the event of a collision, empowering consumers to make informed decisions while purchasing cars.
  • This comprehensive program is set to come into effect from October 1, 2023, and will play a pivotal role in curbing the alarming number of road fatalities in India.

What is Bharat NCAP?

  • About: Under the Bharat NCAP initiative, vehicles, particularly passenger cars, will be subjected to rigorous crash testing procedures, and based on their performance as per protocols laid down in the soon-to-be-published Automotive Industry Standard 197, they will be assigned a safety rating ranging from one to five stars.
    • The programme is applicable to passenger vehicles with not more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kgs.
    • The test procedure involves Frontal Offset Test, Side Impact Test and Pole-Side Impact Test.
      • This rating will provide consumers with a clear indication of a vehicle's safety standards in the event of a collision.
    • Notably, Bharat NCAP is voluntary, encouraging manufacturers to nominate their vehicles for testing, thereby driving the production of safer cars in the Indian market.
  • Testing Parameters: Bharat NCAP evaluates vehicles based on three crucial parameters:
    • Adult Occupant Protection: This parameter assesses the level of protection a vehicle offers to adult passengers in the event of a crash.
    • Child Occupant Protection: The safety of child occupants is equally vital. This parameter gauges a vehicle's effectiveness in safeguarding young passengers during collisions.
    • Safety Assist Technologies: Modern vehicles are equipped with a range of safety assist technologies. This parameter examines the presence and effectiveness of these technologies in preventing accidents or minimizing their impact.
  • Mandatory and Recommended Testing: While the Bharat NCAP is voluntary, certain scenarios can trigger mandatory testing:
    • Base Model Testing: The base model of a popular variant, with a minimum sale of 30,000 units, may be subjected to testing.
    • Ministry Recommendations: If recommended by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways based on market feedback or public safety concerns, certain models might undergo testing.
  • Evolution and Alignment with Global Standards: The Bharat NCAP draws inspiration from the Global NCAP, a project initiated by the U.K.-based NGO Towards Zero Foundation.
    • The Global NCAP acts as a collaborative platform for new car assessment programs worldwide including countries such as the U.S. which has the world’s oldest crash testing regime since 1978. .
    • Over the years, India's testing protocols have evolved, with more than 50 crash test results published for the Indian market.
      • Notably, Tata achieved India's first 5-star car rating in 2018.
  • Possible Outcomes:
    • Reduced Fatalities: With India witnessing around 1.5 lakh road fatalities annually, Bharat NCAP aims to reduce casualties by encouraging the production of safer vehicles.
    • Healthcare and Insurance Relief: Improved vehicle safety would lead to a reduction in the burden on healthcare and insurance sectors, resulting in positive societal and economic impacts.
    • Manufacturer Reputation: Manufacturers can enhance their brand reputation through consumer-centric practices, fostering higher consumer loyalty.
  • Challenges:
    • Diverse Road Conditions: India's road infrastructure varies greatly, from congested urban roads to poorly maintained rural highways.
      • Different road conditions can impact the way vehicles behave during crashes, making it challenging to design a one-size-fits-all safety assessment framework.
    • Affordability and Market Dynamics: A substantial portion of the Indian population seeks budget-friendly vehicles, which might pose a challenge for manufacturers in implementing advanced safety features.
      • Striking a balance between affordability and safety could be a complex task, requiring innovative engineering solutions.
    • Variety of Vehicles: India's automotive market is diverse, featuring a wide range of vehicle types and sizes.
      • Designing crash tests that effectively evaluate safety across this diversity, from compact cars to SUVs, requires thorough consideration of different vehicle dynamics.
    • Consumer and their Preferences: While the Bharat NCAP aims to empower consumers, the challenge lies in creating awareness about safety ratings and convincing buyers to prioritize safety over other features.
      • Consumer preferences might still lean towards design, features, and price, limiting the immediate impact of safety ratings.

Way Forward

  • Collaborative Safety R&D Hubs: There is a need to establish safety research and development hubs in collaboration with academic institutions and manufacturers.
    • These hubs can focus on addressing specific safety challenges unique to India, fostering innovation through joint research.
  • Road Safety Awareness through Art: There is a need to collaborate with local artists to create safety-themed public art installations near accident-prone areas that can raise awareness about the importance of safe driving.
  • "Safety Score" Integration: Insurance companies can assign a safety score to each vehicle model based on its NCAP rating.
    • This safety score can be displayed prominently on advertisements and dealerships, making safety a focal point of consumer decisions.

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