Manufacturers wanting to importing fully-assembled cars into India should find the going a bit easier now India has finally joined the 1998 agreement on Global Technical Regulations (GTR) for vehicles.

The GTR is administered by the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), a United Nations organisation working on aligning vehicle regulations worldwide.

In India, the move is expected to result in easier importing and homologation of vehicles, but it will also assist with vehicle exports and reduce the cost of automotive component development and production.

Until now, any manufacturer bringing in fully-assembled cars had to get each model homologated. The Indian process was arduous and time-consuming, and often created unnecessary problems for car makers. Adoption of the GTR agreement is now likely to result in more car makers introducing their complete 'international' model line in India.

Indian car makers will also benefit because vehicle specifications will not have to be varied (from domestic market standards to meet country-specific regulations in export markets.

Component manufacturers, especially those with international affiliations, will also benefit as having common specifications of components for vehicles sold in many international markets will reduce the cost of development and production.

However, the government's recent signing of the agreement suggests that Indian-made cars sold locally may in future have to conform with more stringent international regulations covering safety and emissions.

Deepesh Rathore

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