Locally Made Cars may Face the Salt Spray Test SAFETY FIRST Move, followed in foreign markets, to help determine corrosion resistance.

Economic Times Delhi

10th November, 2018

Kolkata: Indian vehicle testing agency International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) has proposed salt spray test for locally manufactured cars to determine corrosion resistance, a practice prevalent in overseas markets.

The road transport and highways ministry, which wants to make it mandatory for automobile manufacturers to use 70% galvanised steel for car body panels—in order to make them safer—had sought ICAT’s view on the matter. Galvanisation, or covering of metal with zinc, makes it less prone to corrosion, which in turn makes structures safer.

Responding to the ministry’s query, ICAT said, “In India, safety of passenger cars is generally evaluated by presence of air bags, seat belts, shock absorbing devices, etc. However, it does not include corrosion resistance as one of the crucial factors for safety of cars.”

The proposal, under ‘Corrosion Prevention Rule for Motor Vehicles’, pertains to cars made in India and costing less than ₹10 lakh. It draws inputs from a study conducted by IIT Mumbai in 2015 which said corrosion problem affects durability and safety of cars.

ICAT cited data from a study carried out by Swedish insurance company Folksam, which showed that in case of accidents, the risk of death is 20% higher in rusty cars. The probable reason is that due to rust, the vehicle does not deform as intended, which hampers its ability to absorb the impact after a collision.

The testing body said, “In keeping with the concern about safety of automobiles, we propose that the ministry may implement an Indian regulation specifying vehicle level corrosion resistance test. ICAT is ready to support the ministry for drafting the standard as well as to create requisite test facilities.”

According to ICAT, some auto majors like Tesla, Toyota, Mazda KIA and Volkswagen have had to recall their cars due to corrosion related problems in critical suspension parts like ball joints, lock nuts, etc. “Studies also show brake and suspension parts in cars are susceptible to corrosion as these systems come into direct contact with water,” it said.

According to a ministry note, automakers in India use only 30% galvanised steel for vehicles to be sold in the domestic market, which leads to faster rusting and reduces the car’s structural strength and stability. But the percentage of galvanised steel rises to 70% for the same model if it is for export, the note said, as quality control in foreign countries is far more stringent on corrosion parameters. The global average is 50%.