Bharat NCAP launched, will be in effect from October 1
In a significant move towards enhancing road safety and ensuring passenger protection, the Indian government has unveiled the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (BNCAP), scheduled to be implemented on October 1, 2023. This indigenous vehicle safety initiative aims to establish stringent safety standards for automobiles across the nation, bolstering the road safety of both occupants and pedestrians alike.
The Bharat NCAP crash test programme, developed in alignment with the Automotive Industry Standard AIS 197, specifically targets vehicles classified under the M1 category. These vehicles, designed to accommodate up to eight passengers in addition to the driver, are mandated to have a gross weight not exceeding 3500kg. The programme extends its coverage to encompass various vehicle types, including imported cars as well as those powered by CNG and electricity.
This comprehensive programme, although voluntary for the manufacturers, uses a random sampling approach, where the base variant of the chosen model is chosen directly from the manufacturing facility or dealership; however, if the model for the variant has sold more than 30,000 units, the government can recommend that it be tested. The chosen representative vehicle is then subjected to crash testing procedures at designated assessment centres, which are supervised by both manufacturer representatives and the government.
A frontal impact test, in which the vehicle rams into a wall at 64kmph, a side impact test, in which the vehicle crashes sideways into a barrier at 50kmph, and a pole side impact test, in which the vehicle crashes into a pole at 29kmph, are all included in the testing protocol. Notably, the programme evaluates both adult and child occupant safety, as well as the presence (or absence) of safety assist technologies like the ESC, pedestrian protection, side head protection, and seat belt reminders in the tested vehicles.
Vehicles will be assigned a rating ranging from 1 to 5 stars based on their performance in the prescribed tests after stipulated evaluations. After the Central Institute for Road Transport (CIRL) completes its evaluation, certified vehicles will be awarded the Bharat NCAP logo and a corresponding rating-specific sticker. A vehicle must receive a minimum of 27 points during testing to receive the coveted 5-star safety rating for Adult Occupant Protection. A 5-star rating in Child Occupant Protection, on the other hand, necessitates a score of 41 points. Importantly, the results will be made public following approval by the standing committee, providing consumers with critical safety information for their purchasing decisions.
Mr Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, stated at the launch event that the ministry is now working on removing 1000 blindspots on Indian highways through reengineering so that we are left with safer roads and, thanks to BNCAP, safer cars. In addition, Gadkari stated that the BNCAP programme has received over 30 models for testing prior to its launch.
Comparing the Bharat NCAP with global safety standards set by the likes of Global NCAP, Latin NCAP, the Euro NCAP, and the Asean NCAP, the Bharat NCAP is almost on par with the other NCAP regulations. The speeds at which the tests are slated to be conducted are the same as the global standards. However, the pedestrian impact test norms, although mentioned in AIS 197, are still undisclosed for the Bharat NCAP.