Clean Tech

Give the old vehicle a green break

Preeti Mehra | Updated on October 06, 2020

Charge up EV appeal Polluting vehicles need to be discarded and recycled   -  RonFullHD

Experts feel that linking the upcoming vehicle scrappage policy to incentives for an electric vehicle future is the best way forward

With the threat of air pollution looming large as winter sets in, there is a great deal of focus on the newly established Bharat Stage VI emission standards for vehicles introduced this April. The new vehicle fleet is roughly estimated to reduce vehicular pollution by 60 to 90 per cent. But this can only happen if, and when, it hits the roads, for which there is as much need of incentives and policy tweaks as there is of business acumen.

Meanwhile, the thrust for an electric vehicle (EV) future is also on the cards. States like Delhi, Telangana and Gujarat have already worked out their respective EV infrastructure policies and they hope this will bring in more EVs which, in turn, will help reduce vehicular emissions and meet the national-level target of 20 to 30 per cent reduction on PM2.5 and PM10 by 2024.

The entry of a greener fleet would mean replacement of vehicles on a large scale and the retirement of a huge number of vehicles in all segments — heavy duty, commercial, cars, three-wheelers, and two-wheelers. However, the lack of an end-of-life vehicle (ELV) scrappage policy means that recycling, which largely involves the informal sector, remains unregulated, hence tardy, and not always carried out by environment-dictated rules. GIZ/Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ figures for 2015 estimated that there were 87.31 lakh vehicles that needed to be scrapped.

The government policy is being awaited since 2016. Currently, determining scrappage are the Central Pollution Control Board guidelines released last year for the handling, processing and recycling of abandoned vehicles, the Indian Automotive Industry Standard – AIS 129, which involves manufacturer’s responsibility for some vehicle segments, and the National Green Tribunal directive for notifying the draft guidelines for setting up, authorisation and operation of authorised vehicle scrapping facility.

However, the real change on the ground, experts feel, will only take place with a cohesive and stringent scrappage policy in place. With a switchover to BS VI emission standards, such a policy is urgently needed as vehicles that need to be scrapped are likely to rise substantially in the next few years. In fact, by 2025, the number of retired vehicles is estimated to touch 2.18 crore, with two-wheelers accounting for about 80 per cent of them. Adding extended producer responsibility to make manufacturers more responsible and encouraging them to shift to recyclable vehicle parts could go a long way.

Fortunately, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced that a policy is on its way and will be part of the stimulus strategy during the ongoing economic slowdown.

Taking a leaf from Europe

To highlight the issues that need to drive the policy, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) recently came out with a report, ‘What to do with old vehicles? -- Towards effective scrappage policy and infrastructure’. The report reveals that the maximum benefit to air quality from vehicular pollution will come with the removal of old diesel trucks. It says, “A diesel truck certified to BS I standards emits 36 times higher PM compared to a BS VI truck. Similarly, trucks meeting BS II emission norm emit at least 14–15 times higher PM and NOX compared with BS VI trucks.”

It also quotes a 2014 multi-city study conducted by scientists at IIT Mumbai estimating that pre-2005 vehicles and super emitters comprise about 46 per cent of the on-road population. Their contribution to PM2.5 emissions is estimated at 70 per cent of the total pollution load from vehicles. This, of course, could vary from city to city, but it goes to reinforce the argument that old vehicles need to be discarded and recycled urgently in the country. How it is to be done, and who will provide incentives to consumers to give up vehicles over the hill is still to be known.

The CSE, in its report, flags several steps forward not only for green recovery but to nudge an EV, low-emission future in the country. Among its many recommendations is, “leveraging the scrappage stimulus to accelerate zero emission pathway for the new normal”.

This primarily means linking the incentives given for retiring vehicles to acquiring electric vehicles. This may be possible in the case of cars, two or three-wheelers, even city bus fleets. The strategy is helping Europe shift gear towards more zero emission electric fleets on its road. This could be tried in India too with varying degree of incentives for shifting to BS VI and EVs, but its ability to attract customers would depend on whether the incentive is worthy enough. For this, the awaited scrappage policy will need to be thoughtfully formulated and robust in intent to help the country meet its targets of ensuring 25 per cent of all transport is in the electrification segment by 2024.

Published on October 06, 2020

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