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Car makers to tweak product plans to meet BS-VI norms by 2020

Car makers will have to race against time by tweaking their product plans to meet the 2020 deadline for the highest emission norm of Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI). Manufacturers are required to control particulate matter emission and reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) as they leapfrog from the current BS-IV to BS-VI.

Earlier this month, the government decided to advance implementation of BS-VI to April 2020 from the earlier plan of April 2021. In November last year, it had advanced BS-VI norms by three years to 2021 and BS-V norms by an equal number of years to 2019. However, it has now decided to skip the BS-V norms altogether.

“We will need to do the same work in four years against the earlier time frame of six-seven years. We will have to tweak our product plans. For the new launches that will happen 2020 onward, it will be possible to meet BS-VI norms provided fuel is available across the country. For the existing models, a transitory provision has to be allowed,” said C V Raman, executive director (engineering) at the country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki. The industry, it is learnt, is seeking an additional two year period to upgrade the vehicles launched before 2020 to BS-VI.

There are more challenges in meeting the sixth level of emission norms for diesel vehicles. Manufacturers will have to calibrate the diesel particulate filter to control particulate matter emissions and ensure its reliability according to Indian conditions. This will be followed by calibration of the NOx control system. “In BS-V, the industry would have addressed all the PM emissions with around 28 per cent NOx reduction, while the rest of NOx would have been taken care of at BS-VI stage to bring the same to same level as petrol vehicles,” said Raman.

While doing all these changes, the manufacturers will have to be watchful of the consequent price increase. Higher prices impact the purchasing power. Price of BS-VI petrol cars may go up by Rs 15,000-20,000 while diesel passenger vehicles will be expensive by Rs 80,000-100,000 once BS-VI is implemented. “The product planning road map has to be changed. The new products that were being considered will have to be reworked to ensure they meet BS-VI norms in case of a launch in 2020 or later. We also need to maintain the price value equation. The changes in regulation have brought in challenges towards ensuring these requirements as it involves advancing the changes in products, necessitating additional investment by the supply chain and product operations,” said Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales and marketing) at Hyundai Motor India.

Another challenge facing the industry is the limited capacity at the end of component suppliers. “There are only a few such engine management system manufacturers and the engineering development capacity is limited. In addition, suppliers of DPFs and NOx control systems will have to invest at their end for local production of components to support the car makers in keeping the cost increase under control,” said Raman.

The industry has also stated that a national rollout of BS-VI fuel simultaneously is the key to making it a success. At present, we have BS-IV norms in select cities and BSIII norms in rest of the country due to non-availability of fuel. “If you use BS-IV fuel in a BS-VI engine, durability and quality will be impacted”, said Raman. The key problem is the high sulphur content in BS-IV fuel. However, if BS-VI fuel gets used in a BS-III or IV vehicle, there is no negative impact.