Mercedes-Benz, the country's biggest luxury car maker, will start introducing vehicles meeting the stringent Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission standards in India from next year. It is the first in the segment to say so.
The first such cars will be rolled out for the Delhi market; the central government has decided only BS-VI fuel must be supplied in the capital from April 1, two years before national rollout. All new vehicles sold at present comply with BS-IV norms.
"The government is taking a courageous decision in the right direction. We will be ready to introduce our first BS-VI cars next year. The engine will be largely locally made. We don't know the increase in price levels but it has to be expensive," Roland Folger, managing director and chief executive officer of the German company's India unit, told Business Standard.
The government announcement on BS-VI came last week, in response to the city's smog condition. "We believe this is just a start. A lot of other cities will follow this as well (before 2020)," said Folger, stressing on the importance of making this fuel available in places outside Delhi. "We need to make sure our BS-VI car owners find this fuel when they decide to drive out of the capital for work or leisure. You cannot use BS-IV fuel in a BS-VI vehicle; that could cause damage and even lead to a lapse of the warranty."
Mercedes sold 11,869 cars in the domestic market during the January-September period, up 19 per cent over a year before. Delhi is one of its top markets in the country.
The company had said it was also studying the possibility of app-based delivery of BS-VI fuel for its car owners. "We may experiment with personal delivery of fuel. You (can) get your food delivered to home and office. Why not fuel?" Folger had said earlier.
Mercedes' parent company has been selling Euro-VI (Europe's equivalent of BS-VI) compatible vehicles in all of Europe since 2015. However, a lot of validation and testing is needed to make the technology suitable for the Indian market. "A key challenge is to engineer components and systems to Indian driving conditions (road, traffic, driving habits, fuel quality). The solutions that have worked successfully across Europe will not be successful here because of the difference in real drive cycle," said Jan Oliver Rohrl, chief technology officer and additional director at Bosch.