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India to skip BS-V auto emission norms and go for 'six'
Sep 27, 2016

Why in news:

Government has notified the Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standards for two-wheelers and four-wheelers from April 2020 across the country.With this, India has decided to skip the BS-V emission standards and move directly to BS-VI from the BS-IV norms currently being followed in various cities.

Decision is based on earlier direction. In January 2016 decided to implement stricter emission norms of Bharat Stage (BS) VI from April 1, 2020 by skipping BS-V altogether.

What is BS standard:


The BS — or Bharat Stage — emission standards are norms instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, though with a time lag of five years. BS-IV norms are currently applicable in 33 cities in which the required grade of fuel is available; the rest of India still conforms to BS-III standards.

Why these are important:

  • Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world. The national capital’s recent odd-even car experiment and judicial activism against the registration of big diesel cars shows that governments can no longer afford to relax on this front.
  • With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind. While BS IV-compliant fuel currently in use has 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, BS VI stipulates a low 10 ppm. Besides, under BS VI, particulate matter emission for diesel cars and nitrogen oxide levels are expected to be substantially lower than in BS IV.
  • The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia (which is currently grappling with haze) shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, leapfrogging to BS VI can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

Challenge:

This decision of skipping BSV could face two key challenges in implementation:

  • Ability of oil marketing companies to quickly upgrade fuel quality from BS-III and BS-IV standards to BS-VI, which is likely to cost upwards of Rs 40,000 crore.
  • The task of getting auto firms to make the leap. Automakers have clearly said that going to BS-VI directly would leave them with not enough time to design changes in their vehicles, considering that two critical components — diesel particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction module — would have to be adapted to India’s peculiar conditions, where running speeds are much lower than in Europe or the US
  • These challenges are very real —the penetration of BS-IV motor spirit (petrol) in the domestic market a full four years after its introduction in the metros, was just about 24 per cent, and that of BS-IV high speed diesel only 16 per cent, according to government data up to August 2014.

Also, the rollout model of introducing higher grade fuel and vehicles first in the cities has fundamental drawbacks, as was evident in the BS-IV implementation. In the periphery of designated BS-IV cities, BS-III vehicles could be registered; BS-IV vehicles (especially heavy vehicles) were more expensive, and BS-III fuel was cheaper than the BS-IVequivalent. And interstate trucks and buses, the biggest polluters, were forced to stay on with BS-III engines simply because the fuel outside cities did not conform to BS-IV norms.

How it will affect Industry:

  • Sports utility vehicles (SUVs), trucks and buses  would be more expensive.
  • Broadly, BS-IV petrol and diesel have 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, as compared to 150 ppm for petrol and 350 ppm for diesel under BS-III standards. Oil companies are learnt to have put in Rs 30,000 crore between 2005 and 2010 to upgrade; the auto industry has made investments of a similar size. Oil firms will have to invest another about Rs 40,000 crore to upgrade fuel quality to BS-VI; additional investments by automakers to upgrade will inevitably raise the prices of vehicles.
  • Bosch Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of fuel injection systems and engine technologies, had warned the government that such a move could lead to safety and quality problems.
  • Bosch wrote in a letter dated 5 June that it would take as much as four-and-a-half years of lead time for design, application and validation of new engine technologies to move from BS-IV to BS-V, and a similar time to graduate to BS-VI
  • Moving to BS-VI directly will require significant technological upgrades and auto companies may have to invest Rs.40,000-60,000 crore to do so. The move will increase the price of cars in India substantially

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