New fuel emission norms: Auto, oil firms continue blame game

S. Ronendra Singh Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

The Bharat Stage-IV norms were rolled out in 13 identified cities on April 1, 2010, in line with the roadmap laid down in the Auto Fuel Policy,

The Government’s clean fuel programme or Bharat Stage-IV norms that came into effect from April 1, 2010 is still facing problems.

Even as the Government is working on a new automotive fuel emission norms to be introduced in the next few years, the blame game continues among the stakeholders – oil and auto companies with the Bharat Stage-IV norms.

Automobile manufacturers say their readiness will depend on how prepared the oil companies are with new fuel grades. The oil companies, on the other hand, say the opposite.

The programme was to be implemented in phases, with a target of bringing over 50 cities by 2015 using cleaner petrol and diesel.

The Bharat Stage-IV norms were rolled out in 13 identified cities on April 1, 2010, in line with the roadmap laid down in the Auto Fuel Policy, instead of an All-India launch, as only a few oil refineries were providing the required fuel grade.

But now with refinery capacity going up significantly, most refiners are in a position to supply the graded fuel. Those closely associated with the oil industry say that the Government can consider implementing it State-wise, instead of city-wise, provided the auto industry is ready.

Says I. V. Rao, Managing Executive Officer (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India, “The Government wanted to bring out a single norm in the country because of the environment concern, but oil companies are not able to supply according to the new norm (from BS-II to BS-II and to BS-IV).

“As and when they are ready to supply according to specifications, we will also come out with the vehicles having upgraded engines.”

It is mainly the sulphur contents in the fuel that requires to be filtered as there is an increase of sulphur content in the environment.

Automobile companies are working on increasing fuel efficiency of a vehicle by enhancing the basic engine performance so that better energy is generated. They are also working on ways to reduce basic weight of vehicles so that less fuel is consumed, which ultimately will result in making them environment friendly.

The companies are ready and most of them are also making Euro-V (BS-V in India) compliant vehicles, which are meant for export markets. But, the country’s Auto Fuel Policy has not moved beyond BS-IV, say observers.

“Original equipment manufacturers have the capability and can meet any norm anytime by a few technical changes for engines to adapt more refined fuel,” P. Balendran, Vice President, General Motors India said.

There are some extra costs that the automakers have to incur for tuning the engines, and that may ultimately be passed on to the customers, especially the diesel vehicles.

Marc Nassif, Managing Director, Renault India, said that while the auto industry does realise green car is a must, the gap between BS-IV and BS-V is huge in terms of technology as the diesel injection system is completely different. The impact on small cars is big then, he said.

“Many vehicles are still in BS-III in India. I don’t think India is ready for new emission norms. The Government must first look at shift from BS-III to IV. BS-V has to be delayed till then,” he said. While the auto companies are waiting for the oil companies to make first move, the oil industry says that to reap the full benefit of the upgraded fuel quality and reduce pollution levels, more important and immediate requirement would be to ensure improvement in vehicle engine technology to reduce emission levels and deliver higher fuel efficiency.

“From January 1, 2012 to March 1, 2013 the oil companies have expanded the coverage of BS-IV to 17 more cities. This was over and above 13 cities already covered in 2010,” said a senior official from an oil company.

The Government has also constituted an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Saumitra Chaudhuri, Member, Planning Commission, for drafting a Draft Auto Fuel Vision & Policy 2025.

Talking about their preparedness, another official said, the Indian refining industry in the last decade has seen tremendous growth, with the refining capacity increasing from a modest 62 million tonnes annually in 1998 to 215.066 million tonnes, at present, comprising 22 refineries – 17 under public sector, three in the private sector and two in joint venture.

(With inputs from Swetha Kannan, Chennai)

Published on May 08, 2013

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