Experts urge tech-agnostic, fuel-neutral emission roadmap for India Auto Inc

by Sumana Sarkar 06 Aug 2020


Pollution continues to be a key concern for India. Even as India leapfrogged to BS VI emission norms in April this year and skipped BS V, the question is have we done enough to improve air quality? In view of the predominant share of petrol vehicles including two-wheelers, there is a school of thought that insists that emission norms for petrol/CNG vehicles need to be further tightened by 2025 to address the issue of nano particles

Industry experts though feel that legislation needs to be technology-agnostic and regulation has to be fuel-neutral for sustainable long-term benefits. This was also the crux of the conversation at the webinar organised by The Centre for Auto Policy & Research (CAPR)  on ‘Bharat Stage VI Emission Norms – 2025: the next tightening?’ today. 

The panel of eminent industry speakers included:

  • NR Raje, former director, IOCL R&D Centre and former member, EPCA & EAC MOEF
  • CV Raman, senior executive director (Engineering)  Maruti Suzuki India
  • Dr Adolfo Perujo, scientific / technical project manager, JRC European Commission, Italy
  • Rashmi Urdhwareshe, former director, ARAI and president designate, SAE India
  • Garima Sharma, Central Pollution Control Board, GoI

Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India, moderated this key industry event and Autocar Professional was the media partner. 

The emission conundrum
NR Raje, former director, Indian Oil R&D Centre and former member, EPCA & EAC MOEF, kicked off the discussion with a reference to series of studies by IIT Kanpur, indicating a direct link of PM 2.5 on respiratory/heart diseases. He pointed out that, “There is enough evidence now that gasoline and CNG vehicles contribute substantially towards PM 2.5 matter. We should now focus on tightening of emission norms for petrol and CNG vehicles, for not just direct injection engines but also for PFI engines. So we need tighter norms in this regard.”

At this point, CV Raman, senior executive director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India highlighted that, “The PM 2.5 contribution by vehicles a matter of concern. There has been huge reduction in tailpipe emission post BS VI – 62% reduction in vehicle pollution, 48% reduction post BS VI, expect another 10% reduction by 2030 with greater EV adoption. But the extent of ultra-fine particles still quite high in DPF diesel vehicles. Light duty gasoline and CNG come across as relatively low emission alternatives.”

According to Raman, “Customer transition to BS VI technology will have to happen to reap the benefits of the technology shift. Covid has slowed down the transition. We Need to prioritise the shift.”

The question is how? Raman feels, “Fleet renewal programs will accelerate this transition to a cleaner environment. From a PV perspective, 18% de-growth has happened. India is a small car market. Mobility is an important need for India. Affordable transportation a key area of focus. From policy perspective, we need to look at the end result. Legislation needs to be technology agnostic and focus should be what is needed for India.”

Getting a handle on real emissions
Dr Adolfo Perujo, Scientific / Technical Project Manager, JRC European Commission, Italy concurred to the view. He said, “We have realised that there is a clear need to simplify and harmonise legislation for emission. Emission on the road did not improve to the same extent as the ones in the lab. Two-wheelers are a heavy source of emission, especially particulate matter.”

The European Green Deals includes key action towards sustainable and smart mobility. He pointed out that there is a, “proposal for more stringent air pollutant emission standards for combustion engine vehicles by 2021. However, compliance is needed throughout the lifetime of the vehicles under all condition of use; emphasis needs to be on road performance. Pollutant emissions need to be considered along with CO2/GHG emission. There is a greater need to look at these non-regulated emissions.”

NR Raje reiterated the concept when he asserted that, “Regulation needs to be technology and fuel-neutral.” Putting in the manufacturer’s perspective in this context, Raman pointed out that deciding on a 10-year or 15-year timeline for a vehicle would not address this concern of curbing real emissions. He urged that, “Inspection and maintenance mechanism for vehicles is an important aspect. There is need to sift through the safety and emission levels of used vehicles and the number of centres that the government has set up are not adequate given the current scale.”


Need to look at segment-specific needs
Speaking in this context, Rashmi Urdhwareshe, former director of ARAI and president designate, SAE India said that the “emission control target is crucial. We need to limit the carbon dioxide emission. NOx reduction via BS VI will reduce CO2 emission. Real driving emissions will be controlled via BS VI. That is the larger benefit of BS VI.” She foresees “huge potential for India over the next five years with a clear roadmap charted out. The real driving emission is a crucial aspect to address, in context of India specific challenges.”

Given the amount of investments in R&D linked with future requirement, Urdhwareshe sees a growing need to be mindful to break down the emission roadmap as per sectoral requirements.” Moving forward, she expects focus to shift on public transportation.

Short-term solutions vs long-term goals
Speaking on the future of air quality and how emission norms can be tightened constructively, Garima Sharma, Central Pollution Control Board, government of India, said, “The target is to improve air quality and reduce emission levels. Modernisation of fleet is very important, need to keep an eye on the long-term goals. It is important that we take into consideration the short-term solution along with long-term goals for a sustainable future.”

So the question is how exactly should we chart the emission regulation? Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India, brought out the essence of the discussion with his concluding remarks that, "Europe began its emissions regime well but so did India, getting to BS VI in record time. India needs to focus on tech-agnostic solutions, a practical time-frame and a scrappage policy with context to emission targets and roadmap."