Vinod K Dasari
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) has suggested the central government constitute a National Automotive Regulatory Board, to pave the way for policy certainty.
The suggestion comes as the industry struggled to comply with the Supreme Court decision to not give any extension on the last date of March 31 for sale or registration of vehicles meeting only BS-III emission norms.
Vinod K Dasari, president of Siam, said the transition from BS-III to BS-IV norms was “unfortunately, very painful”. He said the automobile industry runs on long-gestation investment and the SC decision had impacted companies' profits and jobs, beside the country's investment image.
As an example, he said around 700,000 two-wheelers meeting BS-III norms were in dealers' inventory when the SC final order came on March 28. Three days later, as the deadline ended, only 7,000 were left. “They were sold at a 50 per cent discount," he mourned, and it was a huge impact. And, 40,000-50,000 commercial vehicles (CVs) meeting only BS-III were not sold. At best, 10-20 per cent would be exported. The rest need conversion, which will increase the cost.
Dasari is the also managing director of Ashok Leyland, second largest CV maker. Sources said the company had inventory of around 10,000 units when the SC direction came.
To the charge that manufacturers should have been preparing much before, he said, “We have been making BS-IV vehicles since 2010 but fuel was not available”. For seven years, he said, nobody pushed or questioned the fuel companies to deliver the needed fuel sooner.
“We should not be punished for obeying the law. It was extremely frustrating,” said Dasari. He said he had written to the prime minister on the suggestion for the automotive regulatory board, also comprising eminent scientists.“You decide what is best in the interest of the country, work it out with eminent scientists, tell us what the road map is, and we will achieve that,” said Dasari. The automotive industry in India, he said, had been the fastest in the world in adopting new emission norms. That was true of BS-IV; now, BS-VI would come in another three years.
Industry, he said, deserves a break.
Even so, he expects the CV industry to grow by 10-12 per cent in 2017-18, though the first quarter would be bad, due to the BS-III effect.