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In-built device to diagnose emission level of cars




  A computer-based, system-controlled unit will warn car owners if emissions released by their vehicles are beyond the permissible limits when new rules set by the government kick in by early 2020.

A more tamper-proof on-board diagnostic (OBD) system will be equipped in vehicles that will keep emissions under check and alert owners when thresholds are breached. Current generation cars also have OBDs but these only provide real-time information of the vehicle’s health.

This latest initiative is part of a major overhaul by the government to address the sensitive issue of vehicular emissions. The Volkswagen emission scandal hit headlines last year following which the German carmaker announced its biggest recall in India. The National Green Tribunal also stepped in to put a ban on the sale of all diesel vehicles with engines capacity above 2,000cc in the Capital.

“Vehicles shall be equipped with on-board diagnostic (Bharat Stage, or BS-VI OBD) systems for emission control, which shall have the capability of identifying the likely area of malfunction by means of fault codes stored in computer memory,” said a notification from the ministry of road transport and highways.

While the cost of having this system will be decided close to its rollout, estimates suggest there could be an increase of Rs 2,000-5,000 in the price of cars.

The new norms will be rolled out in two phases. The first one (BS-VI OBD-1), which will be applicable on all vehicles made after April 1, 2020, will have a predefined threshold limit for harmful emissions like non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). The second phase (BS-VI OBD-2) to be rolled out from April 1, 2023, will see tighter restrictions on NOx and PM emissions.

A senior executive with Maruti Suzuki, India’s top carmaker, said: “We have OBDs in our cars for many years, but the new OBD system proposed by the government is very stringent, compared to the present-generation ones. Not only will it be tamper-proof since it will be part of the system, it will also alert the driver to take the car to the service centre for diagnosis at the earliest, by way of, perhaps, an indicator light.”   

This system will also be seen on two-wheelers, where manufacturers will have to adhere to the same deadline rolled out in two phases. OBD on two-wheelers will indicate the number of kilometres the vehicle has clocked after malfunction.

The government came under fire nine months ago when cars made by German giant Volkswagen in India were found to be emitting pollutants nine times more than permissible limits. The company, then, announced a recall of 323,000 cars across three brands.

OBDs were first mandatorily fitted on vehicles in India produced after April 1, 2010 (OBD-1). This was followed by OBD-2 deadline of April 1, 2013.

Manufacturers are already working on moving towards BS-VI emissions norms as well as conforming to the upcoming Bharat NCAP (formerly Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program). The government has taken an aggressive approach to cutting down emissions and improving vehicle safety.

On-board diagnostics (OBD) is an automotive term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability OBD provides full information of engine control, body, chassis and accessories
  Provides vital details of tailpipe emission
  Allows owner to remotely monitor vehicle performance
  Helps reduce engine malfunction, driver behaviour and enhance vehicle reliability
  OBD can also send data to cloud
  OBD can be used by insurance companies to determine driver habits and premiums