Modified cars and bikes are now illegal, followed by a judgement made by the apex court. The supreme court bench, headed by Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran ruled “No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by the manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered which have been specified by the manufacturer to be entered in the certificate of registration”.
Painting the vehicle to your choice and minor fitments are permitted. Structural changes to the vehicle are now considered illegal. You will also have to take permission from the registering authority if you intend to replace the engine with the original make and model. Upsizing the tires to a larger size is also now illegal.
This judgement is a bitter pill for many automobile and motorsport enthusiasts alike. The aftermarket accessory industry in India has grown at a CAGR of 14% in the last five years. By 2020, the industry is expected to touch INR 75,000 crore. This is a huge turnover and the aftermarket industry will take a hit by the apex court’s judgement.
Offroading clubs are hugely popular in India. There are a lot of organized clubs and they indulge in weekend offroading activities. They also conduct offroading trophies and championships. Rainforest challenge, a hugely popular off-roading championship has been gaining popularity in India lately. Extensively modified vehicles are used in these events. Vehicles are modified using lift kits, offroad suspension systems and tires. The chassis of some vehicles are cut short to aid approach and departure angles. To aid water wading, the vehicles are fitted with snorkels.
Thanks to these clubs, offroading is gaining attention in India. Some of these offroading clubs came forward to the rescue of the stranded people during the Kerala Floods of 2018. Mahindra Adventure is the only manufacturer to have its own off-road training academy in India. They use specially modified versions of their vehicles for training and other activities. This judgement is a severe blow to the already dwindling offroading activity in our country.
Motorsports in India
Motorsport in India is in its nascent stages and is still growing. There are only a handful of international drivers/riders from our country. Motorsports depend largely on aftermarket parts to improve vehicle performance. They use modified pistons, large brake callipers and discs, fibre body parts, racing exhausts extensively. They also use aftermarket parts such as race-spec suspension systems, upsized rims and slick tires, gearbox and turbochargers to tune their cars.
A lot of 2 wheeler riders are small time riders and they use modified versions of their road bikes. They use various aftermarket components to improve the performance of their bikes. They also upgrade carburetter, engine (piston changes, cylinder re-boring) and exhaust system, racing or offroad tires to improve performance. These changes are now nullified by the order of the apex court. The decision on vehicle modification is a huge blow to the aftermarket industry. This cascades onto the Offroading and Motorsport community which is suffering from the lack of government support.