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Union minister Nitin Gadkari asks auto and components industry to discourage imports

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NEW DELHI: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday asked Indian automobile and components industry not to depend on imports and develop local substitutes for products bought from overseas, saying the country’s auto sector has the potential to be the top global manufacturing hub.

The government has also taken several steps to encourage Indian companies to export more, and the components sector has an opportunity to take advantage of measures like changing the definition of MSMEs, the Road Transport and Highways minister said while addressing the annual session of Auto Components Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA).

“I request you, don’t encourage imports. Try to take the initiative to find out the alternative, or how can we make import substitutes in India,” he said.

He further said while making those products in India,”Initially the profit margin may be less but when you get the volume, you can be the most important company for exports. I have 100 per cent confidence in you.”

Gadkari, who also holds the MSME portfolio, exhorted the components sector to improve production, technology and quality and take advantage of India’s cost competitive labour to be a force in the global arena and contribute even more to the country’s GDP.

Exuding confidence about the sector, he said,”We can make the Indian automobile industry, within five years, as a number one automobile manufacturing hub in the world.”

Stating that the automobile sector is one of the important sectors in the country, he said one of the most significant contributions of the industry is in employment generation apart from its contribution to the country’s GDP.

He also expressed hope that the auto industry can play a lead role in the government’s vision of self reliant India.

“I feel that the government will be supportive of increasing production, increasing exports and increasing more value addition in the country,” he added.

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Only BIS-certified helmets to be made, sold in India for two-wheelers

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NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said only Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)-certified helmets would be manufactured and sold in India for two-wheelers.
This would help in avoiding sale of low-quality two-wheeler helmets in the country, which would help in protecting persons involved in accidents from fatal injuries, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways…has issued the ‘ Helmet for riders of Two Wheelers Motor Vehicles (Quality Control ) Order, 2020′.
Protective helmets for two-wheeler riders have been included under compulsory BIS certification and the publication of the Quality Control Order,” it said.
Following the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, a committee was formulated to consider lighter helmets in India suiting the country’s climatic conditions and that for ensuring compliance among citizen to wear the helmets.
The committee had experts from different fields, including expert doctors from AIIMS and also from BIS.
The committee in March 2018, after detailed analysis in its report, recommended lighter helmets in the country, and the ministry accepted the report.
According to the recommendations of the committee, the BIS has revised specifications through which it is expected to make lighter helmets.
The total number of two-wheelers being manufactured in India annually stands at about 1.7 crore.
The International Road Federation, a Geneva-based global road safety body working for better and safer roads worldwide, welcomed the road transport ministry’s move to bring helmets for two-wheeler riders under the mandatory BIS regime.
“This much-awaited move means the sale of non-BIS certified helmets will be an offence once the notification comes to effect,” K K Kapila, president emeritus of the International Road Federation, said.


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Tata Nexon: 2020 Tata Nexon Review: Transition boasts much more to it than meets the eye

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NEW DELHI: Tata Nexon has had one of the most graceful BS6 transitions in the industry. A bulked-up SUV that mostly relied on its performance and slightly on its aggressive looks is almost unrecognizable in its BS6 avatar as it flaunts a much younger and an uber-cool character minimizing the earlier aggressive tone. It just doesn’t stop there, the BS6 Nexon is also the latest addition to Tata’s connected fleet.
Although, the Nexon still has much ground to cover to give a fierce competition to the rivals in terms of the creature comforts offered, TOI Auto looks at everything that has been changed, redone or discarded and what deserves your attention and what not.

Price
While the BS4 version of the Nexon ranged between Rs 6.58 lakh – Rs 11.10 lakh (ex-showroom), the BS6 version boasts a price tag ranging between Rs 6.99 lakh – Rs 12.70 lakh (ex-showroom). With a price hike ranging between Rs 25,000 – Rs 86,000 across variants, the Nexon still manages to be very competitive in the segment. But again, it is very important to see if the extra Rs 86,000 is justified or not. Let’s find out.

Ravishing facelift
Due to the new cosmetic upgrades, there’s a massive shift in Nexon’s overall image. The aggression is slightly toned down, the SUV is still muscular but that is overshadowed by its own boldness. Adopting Tata’s Impact 2.0 design language, the SUV flaunts a completely redone front fascia with the new signature front-grille, redesigned sleeker and sportier front bumper, faux skid plate and a revised LED package that adds to the dynamicity of the Nexon. The side profile mostly remains the same except the coupe-inspired aerodynamic shape, all-new piano-black ORVMs and slightly redesigned alloy wheels that stand out. On the rear, the Nexon badging has moved to the centre and the LED package has been revised here too, making the rear profile look quite imposing.

The new visual features definitely suit the Nexon well and its new uber-cool character seems to be doing well with the audience too. While the BS4 version’s looks seemed a tad bit out of place, the BS6 avatar catches up with time and takes up a much younger character.

Slightly tweaked interior
The BS6 Tata Nexon has dumped the all-darked out dual-tone black and silver interior theme and adopted a new three-tone finish that is a treat to the eye. On the inside, not much seems to have been changed apart from a few tweaks here and there. What has changed is the redesigned dashboard that looks quite plush, the tri-arrow seat upholstery that gives a refreshed character to the interior, a new central console that improves both the luxury and the utility quotient and the highlight here is the new flat-bottom steering that adds a sporty touch to the driving experience.

Few new creature comforts
The highlight in this aspect is the electric sunroof that significantly enhances the in-cabin experience of the occupants. The new cruise control feature also lets the driver rest back and offers a comfortable ride for the rest of the occupants too. The third new addition is the Xpress cool feature that works like a charm in extremely hot conditions. Other features like automatic AC, rear AC vents and 8-speaker Harman audio system remain the same.

New connected tech to keep up with times
The same 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is now paired with IRA connected technology that offers most of the telematic services. The connected features include a live diagnostic report, find my car, remote vehicle control, intrusion alert, tribe feature to connect with other owners, natural voice tech that understands Indian accent, reverse camera assist and what3words navigation feature.

New utility features in the package
The BS6 Nexon also boasts quite a few new utility features like the tyre pressure monitoring system, automatic projector headlamps, new instrument cluster and the all-new rain-sensing wipers. Other features like a wearable key, engine start/stop button, 3 driving modes reaming exactly the same.
Same engines, minor enhancement
Not much of a difference in this aspect as the Tata Nexon boasts the BS6 version of its same engines as before- 1.2-litre Revotron turbo petrol unit and a 1.5-litre Revotorq diesel unit. There is a minor enhancement in the turbo petrol engine as it now offers mildly better power at 120 PS (110 PS earlier) and the same torque at 170 Nm. The specs of the diesel unit remain the same with 110 PS of power and 260 Nm of torque. Both the engines are paired to a 6-speed MT and a 6-speed AMT as before. The three driving modes offered with the engines- Eco, City and Sport- adapt quickly to varied driving situations.
Grounded performance
While the diesel version of the car performs exactly the same as before, we noticed quite a few changes in the petrol unit’s character. The petrol unit seems quite lazy until it hits 1800rpm but after that, it springs to life. Despite being quite heavy, the Nexon stays grounded with ease and on the highways, the hefty steering wheel and the cruise control feature are a blessing.
Shortcomings that rain on Nexon’s parade
We found 3 setbacks in our test run of the BS6 Nexon. The first setback with the petrol Nexon is that it wouldn’t be highly responsive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, which would’ve otherwise made it a perfect urban SUV. Secondly, and most importantly, the gearbox of the Nexon is quite lighter than its predecessor and the shifting could get a bit annoying at times. This feature is a big setback as many rivals offer versatile and smoother transmissions. Thirdly, the Nexon again misses out on quite a few industry-standard premium features. Nexon did turn into a connected car but doesn’t pamper its customers with features like ambient lighting, air purifier, wireless charging and the likes of those which almost every rival seems to have nowadays.
Verdict
The Tata Nexon is a decent urban SUV that offers quite a good performance every time you take it for a spin. Although you do make a compromise with the premium features, the Nexon fills that gap with exceptional safety features, good looks, robust handling and decent utility features that come with the package. With all those things offered, the price hike seems quite justified and the Tata Nexon is definitely capable of giving its rivals a run for their money if it enhances the in-cabin experience a bit more probably in the next modification year.


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Helmet vaccine: Government bans manufacturing & sale of non-BIS helmets from June 1

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(This story originally appeared in on Nov 27, 2020)

NEW DELHI: From June 1, no non-BIS two-wheeler helmet can be manufactured or sold in the country and any violation of this would be treated as an offence. The road transport ministry on Thursday notified the quality control order for two-wheeler helmets to ensure that only safe headgears, which are also termed as “helmet vaccine for head injuries”, are made and sold in India.

Non-wearing or wearing of a poor-quality helmet is the biggest reason for two-wheeler riders dying in road crashes. Welcoming the move, Dr Amit Gupta, professor of Trauma Surgery at AIIMS told TOI, “Around 45% of the road traffic injuries are head injuries and out of these head injuries, 30% are severe traumatic brain injuries, which can lead to death or disability. Even moderate or mild head injuries have serious implications such as memory loss.”

The road transport ministry had been toying with this proposal for mandatory certification for years. During last year, 43,600 out of the 56,000 two-wheeler riders were killed for not wearing helmets. There is no official data of how many people died in crashes due to non-standard helmets.

Two-Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers Association president Rajeev Kapur said nearly 40% out of the about 2 lakh helmets sold daily in India don’t comply with the standard or are spurious. “In most of the cases, the two-wheeler riders simply wear plastic caps, which are as unsafe as not wearing a helmet. The new norm will save hundreds of lives and more because of stricter enforcement of traffic rules,” he added.

Many countries like India where more than 70% vehicles are two-wheelers have adopted the “Helmet Vaccine Initiative”, to save lives. Global studies have shown that adequate use of a certified helmet on roads can decrease the mortality risk by 40% and the risk of head injury by 70%.

Former president of International Road Federation, K K Kapila said the ban on non-standard helmets has become more important considering that post-Covid more people are expected to have shifted to two-wheelers from using public transport. “Enforcing helmet rules and bringing helmets under quality control is the most effective approach to reduce deaths of two-wheeler riders,” he added.


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