Uncertainty over BS-VI fuel availability is a worry for commercial vehicle sector

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on October 25, 2019

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The new emission norms will kick in from April 1, 2020

Even as the auto industry prepares for BS-VI migration from next year, the commercial vehicle sector is battling with more uncertainties than other segments.

The emission control systems for particulate matter and NOx in diesel vehicles are more complex and expensive, while it is simpler for passenger vehicles due to petrol fuel. The complexity in BS-VI petrol vehicles is just one-tenth of that of diesel vehicles, which require more after-treatment processes in their engines.

CV players ready

Most of the CV players have announced their preparedness for BS-VI with the development of new or customised engines and trucks and for the new emission norms that will kick in from April 1, 2020.

But there is a major concern pertaining to the availability of BS-VI diesel across cities, towns and remote areas.

A couple of months ago, Sanjiv Singh, Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation, had said that IndianOil’s refineries were in the final leg of upgradation to produce BS-VI fuel for supplies across India from April 1.

IOC officials had indicated that the company will commence the changeover from January.

But oil companies have not given any assurance so far that BS-VI fuel will be available in all outlets across India.

“The main concern of the CV industry is when and where the fuel will be available? We had our industry meeting a couple of weeks back and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had communicated that the fuel will be available from April 1. The oil companies will start flushing out old fuel in their outlets from January and then the sulphur level will drop step by step gradually. But, they don’t guarantee the availability of real BS-VI sulphur level till the end of March, which is very difficult for us to decide,” said Satyakam Arya, MD & CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.

“Since trucks have to travel long distances, they have to refill on the way and it will be disastrous if BS-IV fuel is put in BS-VI vehicles,” he added.

Echoing his views, a senior official of a leading truck company said the industry had faced difficulty during BS-IV norms introduction too. In several places in the north, BS-IV fuel was not available for about 3 months after the norms came into effect.

With this uncertainty, CV makers are clueless over stocks and production to be planned for BS-IV vehicles up to March 31, thereby making things more challenging for the industry.

The CV industry reported a 23 per cent decline in sales at 3.75 lakh units during the first half of the current fiscal.

The medium and heavy duty truck market reported a 39 per cent fall at 1.04 lakh units during the period.

Published on October 25, 2019

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