SIAM walks the sustainability talk on World Environment Day

The industry body held a congregation of top automotive industry executives in New Delhi to review the sector’s sustainability initiatives and discuss the way forward.

By Mayank Dhingra  calendar 05 Jun 2024 Views icon1508 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
SIAM walks the sustainability talk on World Environment Day

On the occasion of World Environment Day held every year on June 5, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) organised a congregation of the industry in New Delhi, with top executives from across the sector, including those from OEMs, ancillaries, and policy bodies, coming together to review the industry's efforts and discuss the way forward towards enhancing sustainability.

The day-long conference on the topic: ‘Integrating Mission Life in Automobile Industry: Transitioning towards Viksit Bharat’, saw industry leaders of the likes of Shailesh Chandra, VP, SIAM and Managing Director, Tata Motors; Dr Hanif Qureshi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries; Tarun Garg, COO, Hyundai Motor India; Rajeev Chaba, CEO Emeritus, MG Motor India; Pankaj Jain, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and SIAM representatives, PK Banerjee and Rajesh Menon, among other distinguished industry professionals.

According to Shailesh Chandra, “The UN theme for the 2024 World Environment Day is land restoration and drought resilience and aims to focus on reviving and restoring nature across the globe. While the theme of this conference is - Integration of Mission Life in Automobile Industry - for the automobile sector, this translates to a greater demand for sustainable vehicles.”

“Mass adoption of EVs, incorporation of circularity principles and adoption of sustainable processes are all key actionable measures of the industry. Over the past three years, SIAM has spearheaded several initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint and nurturing the industry to meet its decarbonisation targets. The industry has adopted an ecosystem approach to develop the EV ecosystem in the country,” Chandra said.

Chandra further highlighted that while the industry has ramped up the integration of renewable energy sources into manufacturing, its sustainability efforts extend beyond manufacturing, in the form that the industry is creating a consumer push and awareness to adopt greener EVs.

According to Dr Hanif Qureshi, IPS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI), “When we talk about the environment, the automotive industry is a key stakeholder as it contributes to over 7.2% to the country's GDP. Therefore, the industry and government must work together to create a future vision for sustainability.”

“In the path of moving towards sustainable transportation, the government has taken several measures, including the PLI and ACC schemes. Moreover, these initiatives are technology-agnostic, and do not favor or encourage any single technology that aims to enhance sustainability,” Dr Qureshi pointed out.

As per the MHI top representative, the Ministry has constituted 12 task forces wherein it has divided the sustainability endeavors across various domains of EVs, such as e-motors, and charging infrastructure, among others.

Adopting tech-agnostic approach

Speaking at the conference, Pankaj Jain, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, said, “There is a need to reimagine retail outlets to accommodate diverse fuel types. Moreover, the industry leaders must advocate for sustainability principles among customers and vehicle owners.”

According to Sukhmal Jain, Director (Marketing), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), “The global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) stands at around 50 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. Of this, 75% comes from usage of energy, and the transportation sector contributes to 16% of global emissions, and 12% of India's emissions.”

“Globally, road transportation contributes 75% of the transportation emissions, in India it stands at only 8% as the country only has 22 cars per thousand people, compared to 500-per-thousand, in high income economies,” Jain pointed out.

He further added that while the share of renewables has taken a quantum jump in the last few years, it still has a long way to go. “We are seeing biofuels gain momentum and the country has today arrived at 

E20 fuel, which is currently being retailed at over 15,000 outlets across the country. We are also going to see bio-CNG bear fruit in the next few years, thereby increasing the use of biofuels for road transportation.”

As per Jain, India is a huge market, and one single technology is not going to be the final solution to the country's unique sustainability and mobility challenges. “Therefore, with its over 30-40% efficiency enhancement, hybrid technology too is playing a key role in the decarbonisation of the economy. Moreover, green hydrogen, CAFE-II, and BS7 norms will further enhance the industry's efforts towards decarbonisation,” Jain said.

Kenneth Félix Haczynski da Nóbrega, H.E. Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Embassy of Brazil (Guest of Honour), mentioned, “India and Brazil have a close collaboration when it comes to bio-fuels. We can most definitely use ethanol as a new green fuel.”

Sudhendu J Sinha, Adviser, Niti Aayog, Government of India, said, “We need to take sustainability with more respect and sincerity and create a vertical headed by a passionate sustainable officer. This is the year of innovation, where Rs 1 lakh crore has been dedicated to innovation. It is paramount to give a voice and pitch to the OEMs for all the good work that is being done for the households.”

Tapping opportunities responsibly

“In a special address, Tarun Kapoor, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, said, “If we have to reduce pollution in large cities, we must take all the measures. The government is taking various measures that do not disrupt lifestyles or hit businesses, but help reduce carbon emissions. The availability of ethanol-blended fuel, availability of biogas, as well as the FAME scheme, have all contributed towards the sustainability enhancement of the transportation sector.”

“While electric trucks have also become a possibility with lithium prices coming down, it will become a reality soon. Electric trucks are being deployed in several countries, and we can expect them to be a reality in India as well,” Kapoor added.

“One can say that the mobility sector the world over is going to change in the next five years, and we also aim for India to become a global manufacturing hub for EVs. While we have a flourishing automotive industry, we must tap into the huge opportunity that lies in terms of supplying to global markets.

“While we have a very big opportunity, we also have a huge responsibility to move towards sustainability in the mobility domain,” he signed off.

Rajeev Chaba, CEO Emeritus, MG Motor India, highlighted the complexities of policy interventions in India, emphasising the need to consider the entire lifecycle of vehicles – from raw material to resale of the car (R2R), while Vikram Gulati, Country Head and Executive Vice President, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, highlighted the challenges in tackling water scarcity and urgent need of promoting reduce, recycle and reuse of resources.

Tarun Garg, COO, Hyundai Motor India, emphasised on how the entire ecosystem in the automotive industry can move towards sustainability and progress for humanity. “There has been a growth of 50% YoY in terms of EV penetration. And to increase that penetration, we need to make it affordable and focus on price sensitivity,” Garg said.

Speaking from the perspective of automotive testing agencies, Dr Reji Mathai, Director, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) stressed upon the role of these bodies in embracing new sustainable mobility technologies and the need for establishing more certifying agencies in India to implement desired policies. On the other hand, Saurabh Dalela, Director, International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT), asserted that the generation of electricity for electric vehicles must be powered by renewable sources.

Prashant K Banerjee, Executive Director, SIAM, said, “SIAM is committed to building the nation responsibly, advocating sustainability in line with India's green ambitions. With commendable support from vehicle manufacturers, we are optimistic about reducing emissions and advancing towards green mobility swiftly."

Giving the closing remarks, Rajesh Menon, Director General, SIAM, thanked all the dignitaries and said that the industry body will continue to engage with all industry stakeholders in exploring different ways of enhancing its sustainability roadmap and augmenting the Indian automotive industry's standing as a global leader in adopting the best sustainable practices across all domains.

Tags: SIAM
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