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The Various Facets of the 2020 BS-VI Emission Norms Deadline

Published On Mar 30, 2016By Lisa Pradhan

As India plans to move up to the toughest emission standards by 2020, two leading auto makers in the country, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland are restrategizing their investments to meet the approaching deadline. The big leap from BS-IV to BS-VI emission norms, skipping one level in between, weighs heavily on other vehicle manufacturers as well and is predicted to make commercial and passenger vehicles dearer.

The government’s decision has seen mixed reactions. While environmentalists have welcomed the leapfrogging, auto firms have expressed their doubts on the tight deadline. Adherence to the deadline is quite challenging as India has to migrate to the new norms in four years, a task that took Europe 10 years to implement.

Reason for the regulation

The poor air quality in the national capital and other major cities in India has of late, been a cause of concern for the government. The Centre for Science and Environment, in its recent study, has revealed that air pollution claims between 10,000 to 30,000 lives per year in Delhi and is the fifth main cause of death in India. Vehicular air pollution has increased at an alarming rate and the main pollutants emitted from automobiles such as lead/benzene, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, can lead to serious diseases.

Taking all these factors and more into consideration, the government declared this stringent regulation in order to take stock of the situation. Two-wheeler manufacturers (currently conforming to BS-III emission norms) have, however been spared as of now. The BS-VI norms will be implemented for new vehicles by April 2020 and for existing vehicles by 2021.

Experts apprehensive about the deadline

Although auto giants are gearing up for the April 2020 time limit, industry experts are openly expressing their concern over the short gap of four years.

N Saravanan, head of R&D at Ashok Leyland, says that although technological advancements have made it possible to offer multiple solutions, the tight deadline may mean that the solution will not be optimum. The big technology shift is challenging and proper testing and validation will need time. Plus, the ministry should ensure that BS-VI grade fuel is readily available to ensure vehicles are validated and tested before the deadline, he says.

Bosch Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of fuel injection systems and engine technologies, has already flagged the warning signal. Bosch has already warned the government that the tight schedule can result in safety and quality issues. Friedrich Boecking, regional president (Diesel Systems), Bosch has clearly said that the industry will require at least six years to graduate to BS-VI norms.

Impact on CV makers and buyers

The government’s decision has taken many CV makers by surprise, especially Tata Motors, who was expecting the new BS-VI emission norms to come into effect only in 2023. In order to adhere to the 2020 deadline, commercial vehicle industry heavyweights are reworking on their investment plans. This financial restructuring comes at a time when Indian truck and bus manufacturers are already struggling against international players to retain their foothold in the domestic CV domain.

For implementing this change, auto firms and other related stakeholders such as parts makers and oil refineries will have to spend around INR 70,000 crore to 90,000 crore. For example, Tata Motors, whose annual investment on R&D is INR 1,500 to 1,800 crore, will now have to shell out up to INR 2000 crore for the advancements. Ravindra Pisharody, executive director for commercial vehicle business, Tata Motors, predicts that the BS-VI will call for a spike in investment of up to about 20-25%. “We have just started working on it, we should be spending about Rs. 1,000 crore on the entire BS-VI portfolio," he says.

The huge investments by auto and other related companies means that eventually, customers will have to pay the price.

Impact on air quality

Executive director of Centre for Science and Environment, Anumita Roychowdhury says that all this hassle is worth the effort, as by following the BS-VI emission norms, commercial vehicles will be “fuel neutral”. When compared with BS-IV, BS-VI vehicles emit only one-eighth of nitrogen oxide and half the particulate matter. As there is not much change from BS-IV to BS-V, it is wise to have jumped to the BS-VI emission norms, Roychowdhury believes. As the new regulation will bring in significant reductions in terms of both particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, there is bound to be a positive environmental impact due to which vehicular pollution will reduce significantly.

Currently BS-IV fuel is available in only 50 cities in India. By adopting the BS-VI regulations, India will join the ranks of the US, Japan and the European Union who already follow the Euro Stage VI emission norms.

See Also:

MAN Truck & Bus: Regulations Required for Green Construction Vehicles

India Rises as a Preferred Global Manufacturing Destination for Commercial Vehicles

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