It is the disagreement in perspectives between veteran auto leader RC Bhargava and Nitin Gadkari who recently raised the stakes for car companies on road safety norms.
On one hand, will a customer with a car who has just upgraded from a scooter and is fighting the hiking fuel prices and inflation will want to pay more for safety? The chairman of the largest car-maker in India, says that he won’t
On the other hand, the government is focusing on the data against this, 150,000 people die and nearly 500,000 are injured annually in road accidents in India.
According to a report by the World Bank in a report released in June, with only 1% of the world’s vehicles, India accounts for almost 10% of all crash-related deaths.
“Of course, the condition of India’s roads leaves much to be desired, but, at the moment, the government is focused on more car safety norms, and has tightened the noose on making automakers more accountable,” Bhargava said.
Chairman of Maruti Suzuki in a recent interview with The Times of India said that the var makers will not hesitate to discontinue small cars if they become unviable due to the government’s policy interventions such as the proposal to mandate six airbags from October 1. Maruti is known for selling affordable small cars its target audience being the middle class.
Additionally, Bhargava told TOI, "If the policy becomes such that small cars don't remain viable, we will discontinue them," and added that the company itself doesn’t make any noteworthy profit itself through the sales of the small cars.
"The question that we need to ask is that is it a good thing for the country if low-cost cars disappear from the market... the car industry will slow down. There will be less employment in the auto sector," Bhargava said.