Mandatory information from auto manufacturers

Bob Rupani  /
02 Nov 2018 16:07:24 IST

While working on the 'SUV Special' feature story published in this milestone 20th anniversary issue, one thing struck me - how difficult it is to get some specifications and information about vehicles. For example, ground clearance. This is a vital dimension and critical parameter of performance on India roads, especially in an SUV. As per an amendment in certain rules last year, ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), now measures the ground clearance with the maximum load carrying capacity, or approved vehicle gross weight. Earlier it was calculated in the unladen state. Due to this alteration in the method of measurement, the actual ground clearance has not changed, only the figures on paper are different. To put it simply, if a vehicle has a ground clearance of say 200mm and then you load it with its approved vehicle gross weight, the suspension obviously compresses and the lowest part of the vehicle in relation to the ground surface will be reduced by about 20 per cent, making the measurement 160mm or so. So which is the correct figure? As far as I know, the global trend is to measure unladen vehicles, just like we did in our country before this new rule. As a result, some manufacturers are now circumspect about sharing the ground clearance and many have stopped putting it in their brochures, websites, etc. A few in fact continue giving out the earlier figures. This leaves us struggling to get accurate information.

There is also the fact that some vehicles (like a few of the more expensive SUVs we drove in our special feature story) have adaptable air suspension that allows the height of the vehicle to be lowered or raised. How is this to be measured? Consequently some manufacturers are reluctant to share this data too! Therefore, I would really like to know the reasoning behind the change in ARAI rules? Can someone please explain, and the benefits, if any? Or is it just that we do not want to follow global norms and have a set of regulations and measures specifically for our country? Also, while we are on this, can anyone please tell me if there is any law that makes it mandatory for manufactures to share such information of their vehicles, and if yes, then where do they need to publish it? Similarly, ARAI certifies the mileage or fuel efficiency of a vehicle as per CMVR (Central Motor Vehicle Rule). Most manufactures generally share this information, but a few don't. What is the law on this?

Then there are things like fuel tank capacity, vehicle weight, spare wheel size, etc. Or approach and departure angles and wading depth, all this can be critical for a customer who intends to use his vehicle to go off-roading. What about suspension layout and architecture, chassis construction, engine bore and stroke, compression ratio, gear ratios, vehicle track, total interior volume, front and rear headroom, legroom, shoulder space, windscreen washer fluid container capacity, and other such things? How do you get all these facts and figures? Is all this information purely voluntary for a manufacturer? Being in the business of evaluating vehicles, we often just pick up the phone and speak to the manufacturer and get the data we need. But at times, there are manufacturers who are not forthcoming. What does one do in such a situation?

Given all of the above and the increase in sales of vehicles, I think it's high time we have a list and a law of mandated information that a manufacturer needs to share. Where this information is to be made available or displayed, should also be fixed. Anyone buying a vehicle, or even those like us test driving them, should have a verified source of detailed and accurate information on the vehicle. What should also be decided is the kind of information a manufacturer needs to share. Just look at some of the technical specifications available on a vehicle brochure or the manufacturer's website. There is no standard format; it varies from vehicle to vehicle and from one manufacture to the other. While strong points and highlights of a vehicle are willingly publicised, the weaknesses or shortcomings are just glossed over or simply not mentioned at all!

There is no doubt in my mind that a list of mandated vehicle information from manufacturers is well overdue. What needs to be included is something that can be discussed and decided. Obviously no manufacturer will willingly share what they consider 'secret information' or something that their rivals can exploit or learn and earn from. So the best option is to engage with manufacturers and get them to agree to what all can, and should be common knowledge. The right to information of conscientious consumers should, of course, be a priority. But who will get this done?

In case any of our authorities are listening, I will be happy to sit with the manufacturers along with some of my more knowledgeable auto journalist colleagues, and help draw up this list of mandatory vehicle information. The proper authorities vested with the power, can then pass a law on the compulsory data that needs to be shared. In the long run, the consumers will benefit and so will the vehicle makers. But will it happen? Your guess is as good as mine, because, oh darling, yeh hai India.

  • Aug 09, 08:29 PM (IST)

    That's a wrap on the high-stakes Rajya Sabha elections. Thanks for staying tuned. Follow moneycontrol.com for news, views and updates.

    SUMMARY

    * Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win the election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:30 PM (IST)

    In all, 11 Rajya Sabha members — one from Goa, one from Madhya Pradesh, six from West Bengal and three from Gujarat — were elected.

    FULL REPORT | Rajya Sabha elections: Here who's got elected and re-elected

  • Aug 09, 07:09 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 04:35 PM (IST)


    Why Patel's win matters: A defeat could have meant more trouble for the Congress.

  • Aug 09, 03:56 PM (IST)

    West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also congratulated Ahmed Patel on his victory.

  • Aug 09, 03:01 PM (IST)

    "How much more evidence do we require to understand that we opposition parties are up against a ruthless, finely tuned BJP political machine," Abdullah said.

  • Aug 09, 02:22 PM (IST)

    Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said that Congress leader Ahmed Patel's win in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls "should have never been this difficult" and the opposition needs to introspect and shift strategy to counter the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

  • Aug 09, 02:10 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 01:33 PM (IST)

    Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath says the party has always fought back.

  • Aug 09, 01:08 PM (IST)

    Amit Shah is choosing to focus on the third anniversary of his tenure as BJP President, thanking his followers his Twitter for their wishes. He has not yet commented on his Rajya Sabha victory or the BJP candidate's defeat to Ahmed Patel.

  • Aug 09, 12:15 PM (IST)

    There is no confirmation from the BJP yet over whether they will approach the courts over the EC's decision to disallow two votes.

  • Aug 09, 11:43 AM (IST)

    Congress President Sonia Gandhi says she is very happy with Ahmed Patel's victory. "Thank god for the Election Commission," she says.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)


    Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad says the defeat is a lesson for the BJP and they are free to approach any court.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)

    Kailash Vijayvargiya puts things in perspective. "We have won two seats and Congress only one [in Gujarat], no question of disappointment," the BJP leader tells News18.

  • Aug 09, 10:35 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 10:32 AM (IST)

    JD(U) legislator Chhotubhai Vasava is also believed to have voted for Ahmed Patel, defying the party whip.

  • Aug 09, 10:22 AM (IST)

    JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has congratulated Ahmed Patel on his Rajya Sabha victory. The JD(U) is now part of the NDA, but Yadav has been against the idea.

  • Aug 09, 09:58 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, six leaders were elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal on Wednesday. Five of them were from the Trinamool Congress -Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Manas Bhunia, Shanta Chhetri. Pradip Bhattachya of the Congress was also elected to the Upper House. 

  • Aug 09, 09:19 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:17 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:14 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 08:31 AM (IST)

    There is speculation that the BJP may approach the courts regarding the Election Commission's decision to disqualify the two votes. We should get some clairty as the day progresses.

  • Aug 09, 08:12 AM (IST)

    In the end, it was two disqualified votes that helped take Ahmed Patel over the line. Here's a recap.

  • Aug 09, 07:55 AM (IST)

    SUMMARY

    *Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Ahmed Patel has gone from a low-profile politician to the centre of attention in the past month. Here's a short history of Patel's career.

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Why does Patel's win matter so much? Read our report.

  • Aug 09, 07:50 AM (IST)

    After late-night drama that saw Ahmed Patel retain his seat, we can expect to see reactions pour in through the day.

  • Aug 09, 02:25 AM (IST)

    That's all from the Rajya Sabha election for now. Log on to www. moneycontrol.com for coverage of the Rajya Sabha elections during the day. Thanks for staying tuned.

  • Aug 09, 02:17 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 02:14 AM (IST)

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