The ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), the governing body for automotive testing and measurements in India, has revised the norms for measuring ground clearance for vehicles sold in India.
What is a Vehicle’s Ground Clearance?
Ground clearance is the distance between the ground and the lowest point of the centre part of the vehicle. The centre part is that part contained between 80 percent of the least distance between points on the inner edges of the wheels on any one axle.
The vehicle’s suspension system compresses as the load is increased on it, thus resulting in a reduced ground clearance. When an SUV is loaded with its defined maximum capacity, its ground clearance generally decreases by 20-30 per cent with respect to that in the unladen condition. Once the vehicle is loaded, the new ground clearance will be measured from the lowest fixed point of the car to the ground to get the new measurements.
What’s the Change?
The new norms state that the car (in all body-styles) is to be tested in Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) conditions. Now, the dimension will be scaled with the vehicle loaded to its maximum capacity or the approved gross vehicle weight (GVW). This means that the car needs to be weighed down to general usage levels which would result in the ground clearance being lowered. Till now, it was measured in India with a vehicle at its unladen or kerb weight.
Incidentally, the new rule is actually the original methodology that the ARAI used to use to measure ground clearance till mid-2013 when different rules came into play.
What can we conclude?
Technically, on paper most cars and SUVs will now have a much lower ground clearance figure, in reality, there will be no real change to these vehicles. For example, the new official ground clearance of the Toyota Fortuner is 184mm, which was 225mm according to the previous rule. The global spec of the Volkswagen Tiguan has a ground clearance of 189mm, while it is 149mm in India. Fiat has also released new dimensions for its models and the Aventura’s ground clearance now has a value of 156mm instead of 205mm.
With the recent change in norms, India will again become one of the few countries that use the GVW method of testing ground clearance. Most other countries, including the Europe, uses an unladen method to check on ground clearance.
ARAI is a Research-driven Association of the Automotive Industry with Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India. It works in harmony and complete confidence with its members, customers and the Government of India to offer the finest services, which earned for itself ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and NABL accreditations.
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