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Meeting BS-VI norms by 2020 will be challenging: Markus Heyn

Bosch, the world's largest manufacturer of fuel injection systems and engine technologies, sees the skipping of Bharat Stage (BS)-V norms by India as a challenge. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management at Bosch, tells Ajay Modi that in spite of the criticism diesel technology has received, it remains a clean option. Edited excerpts:

 What does the skipping of BS V in India mean for Bosch?

The automotive industry has to concentrate on what feasible concepts and measures are to reach BS-VI in one step. We are in a position to provide suitable technologies. The secret lies in coming up with a holistic concept and not just make small changes to be able to manage the cost challenge. Finally, BS-VI must also be an affordable solution that results in affordable vehicle prices for end customers. This is a challenge and a journey in which we will support vehicle makers. We are rather positive that India-specific solutions can and must be found. It cannot just be done by importing technologies from abroad.

What sort of time is required? Is 2020 a realistic deadline?

Looking at the timeline of four years, I must say it is challenging. Low surplus fuel must be available during time of development and validation. In 2020, fuel must be available for end use as well. Within four years it is not likely that the entire fleet can be upgraded to BS-VI. All new models can be equipped by 2020. The existing fleet will take another couple of years.

Are there capacity challenges at your end?

First, we need to figure out the right concept for identified models and then we can see where we have a need for adding capacity or installing further manufacturing units or lines. These discussions will happen once we have identified the concepts. We need to be clear what is needed. There are various, if not many, ways to reach BS-VI. We need to have a holistic view on what is needed.

Is there a need for working more closely with the original equipment manufacturers?

We are already working very closely. The challenge ahead is big enough and we need to work even closer, because time is limited.  We need to come up with good concepts and do validation and testing.

So, cooperation will be further intensified.

Diesel engines are attracting a lot of criticism in India. There has been a temporary ban on some categories of diesel vehicles. Is diesel polluting?

Our position is very clear. Diesel combustion engine can be very clean and the way to move forward is to focus our energies on making combustion engines (diesel and petrol) cleaner. It is proven that the technology is clean. We believe that diesel engines, with filters and new technology, can be clean machines. Diesel emits less carbon dioxide than petrol. We can’t simply shift from petrol to diesel.

There is a growing stress on hybrid and electric vehicles worldwide. How are you responding?

We are investing in alternatives. We are trying to prepare alternative solutions that can work and be affordable. However, because of low oil prices worldwide, we see a low penetration of electric and hybrid models. It affects Europe and US. A lot of companies are afraid to invest more on alternative technologies as oil prices are low. That may change once oil price starts moving upwards.

Does BS-VI mean more revenue for Bosch from India?

We have not started calculating yet. That may become clear once we identify the solutions that are needed. Our intent is to provide the right technology at an affordable cost.