Car safety is a pressing concern across the Indian automobile industry. Manufacturers build cars based on consumers' requirements for style, mileage and comfort, largely dismissing the safety standards. But things are changing with some auto majors brining in basic safety requirements.
After Volkswagen standardized airbags across all its models, Toyota is also taking charge by adding airbags in all its variants in India.
Toyota's first models to get airbags are the refreshed Etios and Etios Liva. Soon, the Japanese automaker will make this a norm across its entire range including Corolla Altis, Camry, Fortuner and Innova. Toyota's upcoming Innova MPV with a facelift is expected to have at least one driver side airbag as standard in the base G trim along with other cosmetic upgrades such as rear AC vents, according to the Auto Car Magazine.
Despite Toyota and VW improving their vehicles' safety standards, other Indian automakers have been dismissive about the change. The automakers' resistance to airbags as standard safety feature in cars is due to consumer demand for cheaper price tags. According to Business Standard, the government is considering making airbags mandatory in all cars to improve overall road safety. This will see an increase of minimum Rs. 25,000.
"We will offer them as and when they are made mandatory. There is no technical issue with offering them but the issue is only of cost," a senior Honda official told Business Standard.
All the companies offer airbags as a part of their high-end versions but the base models usually skip this additional safety feature. Companies like Maruthi Suzuki, Hyundai, and Tata among others, are yet to announce a similar move for their best selling models like Swift, Nano, i10 and Alto. These cars failed the NCAP tests due to their poor build quality and lack of airbags. It remains to be seen whether other automakers will join Toyota and VW in making Indian cars safer.