Saturday, November 17, 2007

good motoring
Boom in gizmo market
H.Kishie Singh

With the boom in car sales in the last decade, can accessories and after-sales fitments be far behind?

The market for these gizmos is also booming. Unfortunately, the luxury items are the most sought after. Essentials for safety are completely ignored.

If you are a law-abiding and responsible citizen, here is something you should have in your car. It is called Safe-I auto dipper. As the name implies, the headlights get automatically dipped when the sensor sees an approaching carís headlights. So you drive on low beam. Indian roads would be much safer with an auto dipper. The manual system works as usual. It is an easy retro-fit accessory and can be fitted without tampering with the vehicleís electricals.

The second accessory, which is a must, is a baby seat. Names like Baby-care or Car-mate and others are available in the market but have no takers. In developed countries a baby seat is mandatory if you have a child in the car. Children up to the age of eight must ride in the rear. In India you see children in the lap in the front seat. It means you do not love your child or care about his/her safety. Or you donít know that it is extremely dangerous to have children in the front seat.

There are two items that should be banned. One is the DVD screen in cars. I was at a railway crossing waiting behind a car which had a DVD screen at the rear view mirror level. It was dark so I could see the movie as well. When we moved off from Pinjore to Chandimandir, the movie stayed on the DVD screen. This was at night. Visibility was already low, traffic conditions chaotic and the driver was watching a movie while driving. Great recipe for disaster.

The second item that should be banned is called a necking knob. Itís a great big knob attached to the steering wheel with power steering. It allows you to swing the steering wheel with one hand. Not done. You need both hands on the steering wheel at all times.

The knob sticks out 8 to 10 cm out of the steering wheel. Depending on where it has been placed, in case of a collision it will either whack you in the face, smashing your nose, or in the chest, pushing in a couple of ribs. The seat belt or the air bag that have been installed in your car will not be able to protect you in case of an accident.

Sun roof is available for all cars. Wabasto makes the best in the market. A manual sun roof costs Rs 8,500 and an auto medium size costs Rs 27,000. A large size costs Rs 35,000. Both have a memory, whatever that means. Wabasto makes these fancy sun roofs and, yes, they could add fun to drive in the country.

Music systems are there aplenty. Every manufacturer has his own special editions and they cost from Rs 6,000 to up to Rs 20,000. They play cassettes, discs and even DVDs. The music power output ranges from 40 watts to 1,000 watts. This is enough for a small movie hall. At half volume they will damage your ear-drums and pop the windows out of the car. Extra loud music systems that go boom-boom make the driver hyper. They are a distraction and quite unnecessary.

Your money would be better spent on an anti-theft device. Over 75 per cent of stolen vehicles are never recovered. In Chandigarh, on average, two vehicles are stolen every day. In India a vehicle is stolen every six minutes. An affective anti-theft device costs between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000.

The latest gizmo to hit the market is the global positioning system (GPS). It tells you where you are on the planet at any given time. It help you find your way in a city you have never been to before. It will find petrol stations, ATMs, hotels, restaurants and other life support systems. It will find the most convenient and shortest distance for you. For the tech savy man, this is a must. It covers only a few cities in the country at the moment. Chandigarh is not included but you can feed in your own information and feel safe.

Happy motoring.