BNCAP safety star rating likely to drive up speed and seat belt compliance as well as give a boost to new car sales; 72% say will refer to the ratings when making their buying decision
- ● 48% of car owners indicated if the BNCAP safety star rating of their car comes out to be low, they are likely to ensure speed and safety belt compliance
- ● 28% car owners indicated that they would “upgrade to a car with higher safety star rating”
August 26, 2023, New Delhi: From October 1 this year, car manufacturers in India will have the option of getting safety tests or crash impact tests of their vehicles done within the country, under an indigenous star rating programme known as the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP).
Launching the programme on August 22nd, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari stated that it aims to enhance road safety by elevating vehicle safety standards for up to 3.5-tonne vehicles in India. ”Bharat NCAP will also greatly push the safety and quality of the vehicles in India, while simultaneously promoting a healthy competition among OEMs to manufacture safer vehicles,” the minister stated.
Modelled on the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), a project of the UK based charity Towards Zero Foundation, which promotes the universal adoption of the United Nation’s most important motor vehicle safety standards worldwide. The testing protocol, based on the soon-to-be published Automotive Industry Standard 197, will be applicable to passenger vehicles with eight or less seats in addition to the driver’s seat, with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kg. The Road Transport and Highways Ministry, without disclosing names, informed the media that car manufacturers have so far offered 30 models for testing.
One to five stars ratings will be assigned to a vehicle based on three parameters — adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, and safety technologies in the car. The first two parameters will be calculated on the basis of three different tests, which includes a frontal offset test replicating a crash between two cars of the same weight. During the test a vehicle is driven at 64 kmph and 40% overlap into a deformable barrier, representing an oncoming vehicle. The other tests are a side impact test at 50 kmph and a pole-side impact test at 29 kmph.
An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) would be nominating a vehicle model for testing, after which Bharat NCAP representatives will visit the manufacturing facility or a dealer outlet to select the base variant of the model through random sampling and send it to a testing centre in coordination with the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT). Based on the test results, the vehicles will be approved by the Bharat NCAP Standing Committee. The results, with a certificate of fitness by the CIRT, will be published on the Bharat NCAP website. The program is to be voluntary except in cases where the base variant of a popular vehicle model (minimum clocked sale of 30,000 units) is involved, or when the Ministry recommends a model for testing based on market feedback or where public safety is involved. Crash investigations have shown that passenger compartment intrusion played a key role in 62% of fatal car crashes probed, seat deformation in 34% of crashes, and missing safe braking tech in 30% of car accidents, according to Piyush Tewari, CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, a NGO.This effort by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Ministry is to reduce fatalities in road accidents, which could be more severe with more access-controlled highways being built allowing for higher speed on such roads. India has the highest number of road fatalities at 1.5 lakh annually and most of these take place at a lower speed.
LocalCircles, through a survey, has sought to find out how car owners view this initiative of the government to help reduce fatalities in road accidents by framing Indian safety standards for cars. The survey received over 24,000 responses from citizens located in 271 districts of India. 68% respondents were men while 32% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
72% of consumers surveyed who plan to buy a new car in the next 3 years indicated that they “would want to know” the safety star or BNCAP rating of different cars available in the market
As India prepares to join the US, China, Japan and South Korea with its own car crash safety program, LocalCircles sought car owners and prospective car buyers’ views on what they feel about this development. It asked them, “Government of India is launching a car crash testing program BNCAP which will provide a safety star rating to cars. If you plan to buy a car in the next 3 years, would you want to know the safety star ratings of different cars?” This query received 12,240 responses with 72% of consumers surveyed who plan to buy a new car in the next 3 years indicating that they “would want to know'' the safety rating or BNCAP assessment of different cars available in the market. Of the remaining respondents 24% also felt it “would be nice” to know the ratings. However, only 4% of the respondents stated that “it won’t matter to me”. In sum, while 72% of those surveyed would actively seek to know the star rating before finalizing the purchase plans, 24% more would be interested in the information.
48% of existing car owners surveyed stated that if the BNCAP safety star rating of their car comes out to be low, they are likely to “ensure speed and safety belt compliance when on high-speed roads/highways”
Historically, many cars in India have been designed and introduced keeping the affordability factor in mind with safety features like airbags for every seat not included to keep costs low. Via the next question, the survey asked car owners, “If you learn that the BNCAP safety star (crash test) rating of your currently owned car(s) is low, what action are you likely to take?” This query received 11,858 responses with 48% of car owners surveyed stating that if the BNCAP safety star rating of their car comes out to be low, they are likely to “ensure speed and safety belt compliance when on the high speed roads/ highways". Of the remaining respondents 28% indicated that they would “upgrade to a car with higher safety star rating”; 8% indicated that they would “avoid usage of the car on high-speed roads/ highways''; 5% stated they would “take other actions than the ones listed above”; 8% of the respondents stated they are “not likely to take any action”; and 3% expressed uncertainty of possible action. The finding here indicates that these ratings are likely to drive up car safety awareness and speed and seat belt compliance as many car owners learn that their cars have a low safety star rating. The survey also finds that with this data point, 1 in 4 car owners is likely to upgrade to a car with higher star safety rating over a period of time.
In summary, the survey finds that as the BNCAP star safety ratings become available, 72% present and prospective car owners who plan to buy a new car in the next 3 years are keen to refer to these ratings. What the survey also found is that 48% existing car owners, once they find out that their car’s star safety rating is low are likely to become more compliant to speed and seat belt norms with another 8% with low safety ratings likely to avoid high speed roads. 28% existing car owners in the survey also indicated that if their car’s star safety rating is low, they are likely to upgrade to a safer car over time, a finding that is likely to drive optimism amongst car manufacturers. All in all, the survey indicates that these BNCAP safety star ratings are likely to create awareness about car safety and drive more people towards safer cars. However, the move is also likely to make cars less affordable in India over the coming years. One of the initiatives, the Government and car makers may want to consider taking up is minimizing price impact while including some of the basic safety features in the affordable cars segment.
The survey received over 24,000 responses from citizens located in 271 districts of India. 68% respondents were men while 32% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.