Chennai: Anti-Lock Braking System or simply termed ABS, is a safety device that is not very well known in India apart for a few geeky nerds.
Now however, every single person has been talking about it as the Union Ministry for Highways and Road Transport has notified that all motorcycles will have ABS by April 2019.
In the government’s terms, it means vehicles having a cubic capacity above 125cc need to have ABS while others below, the highest selling vehicles apparently, can do with CBS or Combined Braking System.
What CBS does is, it simply distributes brake pressure to the front wheels when someone applies the rear brakes. Thus, a person need only apply the rear brakes and the bike or scooter will stop sooner than it would if it was devoid of CBS.
This is all good as more than 27 per cent of road accidents in India happen due to two-wheelers and the government is doing something good to solve the issue.
There is a big ‘But’, there is an elephant in the room. You see, manufacturers always seem to have better law consultants than the government’s as they always, seem to find some loop hole in a law.
Single over duel
This time it is the turn of ABS. You see the government told manufacturers that their vehicles must have ABS but not the specific type of ABS. There is single channel ABS (either front or rear wheel only, mostly front wheel), dual channel ABS and the recent refugee from the race track, cornering ABS.
Since the government did not state which form of ABS must be used, manufacturers have the opportunity to get away with the lowest possible solution.
Recent reports suggest that many 150cc bikes would get single channel ABS alone. The Pulsar RS 200 does in fact comes with a single channel ABS and I would presume that it would get a direct pass to be sold after April 2019.
The reason is very simple, manufacturers have to develop a good performing motorcycle that can accelerate to a ton in under 15 seconds, that should be very economical, comfortable, reliable and most importantly affordable.
But the last thing has been blown out of proportion lately as the excise duty on two-wheelers in at 12.5 percent. Add other must pays and must have’s, these bikes cost almost a lakh rupees.
Risk at hand
There is the risk of manufacturers increasing the price due to the kit added as well. But not to forget is the fact that these vehicles sell in the bucket load and manufacturers gain profits in huge margins.
Now, CBS, it is not clear on how the government came to the conclusion that CBS is enough for vehicles having below 125cc. These motorcycles sell in the millions every year.
To put it into perspective, the famed Honda Activa, sells approximately 2 lakh units a month. It is the same case with Hero’s Splendor. Surely, the government, if their motive was to improve safety, could have made it clear about what sort of ABS must be had and they could have done away with CBS.
Easy yet complicated
Bringing in ABS is not going to make matters easy completely. There are other contributing factors too. Bad roads, the reason why compact crossovers sell so very well, inappropriate driving skills and the lack of proper driving inspectors to teach teenagers how not to drive like a megalomaniac.
When the streets are filled with non-ABS and ABS vehicles, in case of a mishap, the ABS equipped vehicle can stop sooner, because it needs lesser ground to stop, unlike vehicles without ABS. This will create its own contributions to the problem that is getting addressed.
Yes, ABS equipped vehicles are needed, but the government, instead of stopping the sale of such vehicles on one sudden day, can order the cunning manufacturers to stop production of non-ABS vehicles well before the implementation day on account of good morale. This would then reduce the losses that manufacturers might incur.
To put it in layman terms, somebody in the ministry has led the others to believe that the best way to make a curry better is to add more spice and forget the salt. And everybody believed him.