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Car makers offer airbags as standard before govt order

Toyota, Volkswagen models now come with airbags besides other safety features

Swaraj Baggonkar  |  Mumbai 

Automotive are taking the government's diktat on improving safety in cars seriously, with at least two now offering airbags on most of their products sold in India.

Toyota Kirloskar Motors, the Indian subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, has introduced airbags in multiple variants of the 10 models it retails in the country.

German car maker Volkswagen was the first company to offer airbags on all its variants in India from the beginning of this year. Volkswagen sells three models in India - Polo, Vento and Jetta - and is the only company to offer dual airbags (driver and passenger) in this line-up.

Toyota is providing driver-side airbag and anti-lock braking system in the multi-seater Toyota Innova, its best-selling vehicle.

An executive from the company denied that the move to have airbags on all the variants is related to any plans of the central government to improve overall safety, saying 'it's a constant product development initiative within the company'.

The government is trying to make airbags come as standard fitment in all cars and sports utility vehicles sold in India in a broader effort to improve road safety standards while toeing the line of several western countries.

Large volume like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors had opposed the idea of making airbags mandatory citing cost pressures. Back of the envelope calculation state that there could be a minimum increase of Rs 25,000 for an airbag addition.

A senior official from Honda Cars India said, "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". Honda used to offer airbags as a standard in all the models and their variants as late as 2011.

However, it went soft on its policy after it withdrew the Jazz and lowered its entry price tag with the launch of Brio (hatchback) and Amaze (compact sedan). Brio's top two variants, however comes with airbags.

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First Published: Wed, January 07 2015. 00:46 IST
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