'Safety measures will inflate car prices'

'Safety measures will inflate car prices'

Making safety measure mandatory for entry-level cars will shoot up prices and force the price sensitive common man to opt for two wheelers which means less road safety, warned Maruti chief R C Bhargava.

His comment ahead of government’s move to make it necessary for cars to install airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), child restraint systems and other safety features.

“The biggest impact of the measure will be on entry level cars as this segment has price sensitive consumers. Installing safety features will automatically raise the cost of the cars,” said Bhargava, the chairman of country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki. He, however, said that he was not against safety rules by the government but insisted that a careful study and research must be done on the causes of road accidents and what contributes most to deaths. Statistically, more than 5,00,000 accidents happen every year, resulting in 1,50,000 deaths. On an average, one person dies every 3.5 minutes. According Bhargava,  there is hardly any link between the number of deaths and cars.

On the sales, he said Maruti had the best ever calendar year in 2014 with sales at about 11.48 lakh units. This is an increase of 13 per cent over last year.  The country is gearing to make a foray into the light commercial vehicles, the first of which will hit the roads before June next year. On the development on its Gujarat plant, he said the company was awaiting a clarity on the amendment to the Company's Act before going ahead with the minority shareholders' voting on its plans to let parent Suzuki Motor Corp own and invest there.

Bhargava also demanded and extension of excise duty benefits to vehicle makers. The excise duty benefits are due to end on December 31. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was quick to respond saying “let us wait till December 31”.

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