India announces car safety rating to cut accident rate

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India will have a new safety rating system for passenger cars from October based on tests, including crashes from the front and side, to make its cars and roads safer, the country’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said on Tuesday.

India, the world’s third largest car market, has some of the deadliest roads where about 150,000 people died in accidents last year, according to government data.

Under the new system, cars will be assigned a rating of one to five stars based on crash tests and other safety parameters, to help buyers make an informed decision and encourage car makers to upgrade their safety standards.

The move is also expected to bring cars in India in line with global standards, Nitin Gadkari told reporters, when laying out the safety rating system.

“This is going to increase the production and give more profits and more number of orders not just in the domestic market but also in the international market,” Gadkari said.

The government has already received requests to test and certify more than 30 car models from different companies, he said.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd said it plans to offer at least three models for testing.

Vikram Gulati, country head and executive vice president at Toyota Kirloskar Motor said the system will allow consumers to compare “safety aspects of various products on offer”.

The programme will be voluntary and testing will cost about 6 million rupees ($72,237) compared with the 25 million rupees ($300,988) charged globally, officials said.

“This move eliminates the need and associated costs of testing vehicles outside (India),” said Myung-Sik Sohn, chief sales and business officer at Kia India.

($1 = 83.0598 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aditi Shah and Sakshi Dayal; Writing by Blassy Boben; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Barbara Lewis)