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Indian automotive industry is undergoing transformation where each stakeholder is playing its rightful part. Government is providing incentives to bring long term sustainable change on fuel dependence, manufacturers are investing in new age advanced technologies and consumer is more aware than ever, asking many questions that matter, above all ‘Safety.
Implementation of Six-Airbags
Airbags consist of the airbag cushion, a flexible fabric bag, an inflation module, and an impact sensor. On an average, adding just the frontal airbag to a car, costs between INR 1,800-2,500, while a side and curtain airbag can cost much more, excluding the cost of additional wiring and electronic components. If you add up all the costs, this would mean that each car sold in the small to mid-level segment would get a minimum price hike of approximately INR 25,000 to over INR 35,000.
Inflators are a safety critical component. Until the recent past it was imported and now some auto component makers have localized this part, but it will take time to bring the cost down. Since, India is largely mid-sized cars and compact SUV market, adding INR 35,000 will result in increasing prices by 3-6 per cent (considering vehicles sold are in the range of INR 6-12 lakh), and the time to redesign the vehicle will be a challenge as it will require modification of panels, wiring and control systems. Price increase coupled with a tough timeline to implement changes can affect the sales.
Role of Advanced Technologies
In India, the adoption is low because of the huge dependence on sub-INR 10 lakh cars where ADAS penetration is nearly zero. ADAS is expensive because it is as dependent on hardware as it is on software. While the hardware cost has been going down year after year, the software cost makes it expensive since not a lot of data is available today to train models. With growing adoption, prices will reduce for both hardware and software. These advanced technologies help in both active and passive safety. Blind spot monitor (while turning or changing lane, will help in avoiding accidents by monitoring vehicle driver’s blind spot) and Emergency brake assist (part of larger ADAS feature, to help in applying optimal braking basis the situation) are examples of active safety features. Passive safety examples are occupant safety monitoring – monitors position of the occupants to deploy restraints system accordingly (airbag and seat belt). Few auto OEMs have introduced stellar features like LDW (lane departure warning) FCW (front collision warning), APA auto parking assistant, ACC adaptive cruise, AEB autonomous emergency braking and blind spot detection.
Safety Trends and Government Schemes
Safety has been a major focus area for the government as well as increased awareness amongst consumers. Almost 52 per cent of the consumers in India are willing to pay more towards safety features. While implementation of six airbags is the first step towards this, crashworthiness ratings and other advanced safety features are being offered which has increased awareness among the Indian consumers. Government has also been very supportive to the industry and has rolled out multiple schemes in the recent past such as Auto PLI, Battery ACC and Fame II. The policies need to keep pace with technology advancements for the industry to benefit.
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