The first meeting of automotive companies and government agencies to look at issues related to energy efficiency and fuel conservation will take place here on Tuesday.
This is part of the government’s efforts to arrive at fuel efficiency norms for vehicles sold in the country.
The first meeting, which will include central agencies, Petroleum Conservation Research Association and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, is expected to set out the technical parameters that will be used to define the norms.
“We don’t expect too much from the first meeting, but we are expecting broad guidelines of what should be done to be in place,” said a government official close to the development who did not wish to be identified.
As reported by Mint on 15 August, the government is exploring new standards that will limit fuel consumption by automobiles. This is the first time the government is trying to set standards in fuel economy, which will be notified under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
Several countries such as China, Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, South Korea and some in the European Union have already put in place standards despite strong opposition from the auto industry.
Another government official close to the matter, who did not wish to be identified, said though the process had started, it was not going to be either quick or easy because of the underlying implication for vehicle makers—modifying engines and vehicles and developing new ones to meet the norms.
Automotive engineers and experts say that there are many ways vehicles can be modified in order to reduce fuel consumption.
Some of these, they add, are already in use. “Ultimately, everybody needs to invest in fuel economy. Saying that you have the best technology today doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved. Fuel efficiency has gone up drastically from the 1980s” and it can be improved further, says S. Majhi, professor of internal combustion engines at the Delhi College of Engineering.
“Right now, the air-fuel ratio is at 14.7 to 1, which is the air-fuel mixture in the engine, which burns. That can also be made more efficient by reducing the amount of fuel injected,” adds Majhi.
Other measures, such as improved aerodynamic design, use of lighter materials, better gear ratios that would minimise resistance, tyres that reduce friction and more efficient microprocessors that control fuel injection can also improve fuel economy.
Hari Krishnan, assistant manager in transmission design, Maruti Udyog Limited, says that the easiest way to improve fuel efficiency is “to reduce the weight of the car but for that safety cannot be compromised, which is why better, lighter and stronger materials have to be used, which are more expensive.”