New Delhi, Aug. 19: The government is planning to fast track rules that will make vehicle recall and compensation compulsory for car makers in case of defects. The move comes in the wake of US auto giant Ford recalling over 1 lakh cars in India last week.
Officials from the heavy industries ministry said the government wanted to announce a formal recall policy by the end of this year making it mandatory for auto makers to officially announce vehicle recalls if defects were detected. The government is also planning to set up a regulatory mechanism, which will fix liability in cases where defects result in loss of life or property.
At present, the industry follows a voluntary recall policy, announced by lobby group Siam in July. Under this policy, car makers declare any defect or engineering flaw in vehicles on their own. However, they are not held accountable for the defects.
Prior to this policy, car companies extended global recalls to India as and when it was deemed necessary.
Developed economies such as Europe, the US and Japan have mandatory recall regulations to deal with fault complaints where a government regulatory body supervises all faults issues and also levies strict penalties on manufacturers for violations.
“The government should have a mandatory recall policy by setting up a national highway traffic safety administration under the proposed national highway safety and traffic management board,” said S.P. Singh of the IFTRT (Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training), an independent body in the road transport and automotive sector.
According to the Delhi-based group, recall should be mandated by law and strict penalties imposed on manufacturers for producing defective cars.
In India, while there are instances of companies recalling defective vehicles, most manufacturers escape scrutiny in the absence of any legal framework.
In November 2010, Tata Motors voluntarily decided to install additional safety features in at least 70,000 units of its small car Nano after several instances of the car catching fire were reported. Other auto makers such as Honda Siel Cars India and Maruti Suzuki India have also recalled cars as part of a global exercise.
In September 2011, Honda replaced power-window switches in 72,115 of its top selling City sedans, while in February 2010, Maruti recalled 100,000 units of its small car A-Star to replace a part in the fuel tank. However, in developed markets, recall norms are strictly implemented and customer feedback taken into account.