The world's largest air bag suppliers are setting up plants and ramping up capacity in India, eyeing a $2 billion opportunity thanks to tougher rules aimed at improving one of the world's worst road-safety records. In India, a person is killed in a road accident every four minutes - 141,000 in 2014 - yet less than a third of the 2.6 million cars sold each year have air bags in this cost-conscious market.
But a planned law that will impose crash test standards by 2017 is creating an opportunity for makers of safety equipment, as cars without air bags will achieve only the lowest safety ratings after tests. That, for the first time, will force consumers to directly consider the risks they run by buying cheap.
By 2020, overall revenues from airbag sales in India are set to rise 11 percent a year to hit $2 billion, outpacing the 9 percent growth expected in China, according to data from Transparency Market Research. By then, India is expected to be selling over 5 million cars a year.
Some of the world's largest air bag makers - Autoliv Inc, Takata Corp, TRW Automotive Inc and Toyoda Gosei Co - are already gearing up to cash in. The company opened a new air bag assembly plant in August in southern India with capacity to make 500,000 units a year, investing 180 million rupees ($2.7 million). Toyoda Goesi Minda India, a joint venture between the Japanese company and India's Uno Minda, which has a 25 percent market share, plans to increase its capacity by up to six times to 150,000 air bags over the next two to three year. Analysts say others will follow, setting up in India to keep costs as low as possible.
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University