That India, globally a laggard on this front, will soon set fuel-efficiency norms for cars should gladden consumers and conservationists. Petrol and diesel account for half the country’s exorbitant oil imports. Saving here is crucial both for energy conservation and to minimize the carbon footprint of road travel.
Sale-time claims on mileage are usually quite discounted in buyer perception, although it is a yardstick for comparing competitors. But as long as the standardized rating is on a voluntary basis, consumers may not be able to make an informed choice while buying a new car. For conscious buyers, making the ratings mandatory for car makers will help.
But buffered by underpricing of fuel, consumers will still not have the best incentive to buy the most fuel-efficient cars. Just setting norms across car — and petrol and diesel — segments can’t make a meaningful dent in curbing consumption. The question is how public policy can augment this effort.