New Delhi: The Indian government is poised to issue new, voluntary fuel-efficiency norms for four-wheeler passenger vehicles that will be made mandatory and more stringent starting 2010.
It is estimated by the government that three in four passenger vehicles in India are so-called three stars, or having a fuel efficiency equivalent to 12.6-16.8km per litre of petrol.
Under the norms, regardless of engine size, car buyers will have to be provided comparative information on fuel economy about passenger vehicles in the market. At the same time, the new norms could help boost sales of hybrid vehicles, which allow the use of petrol and an alternative fuel source, in India.
The proposal, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint, says that the initial set of fuel economy standards can be phased in from model year 2010 to 2012, with the next set of more restrictive standards to follow after that. Also, as in the case of energy efficiency labelling for appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, it will begin with a voluntary code that will be made mandatory with further revisions of the codes.
The road transport and highways ministry estimates there were about 100 million vehicles on Indian roads at the end of 2007, of which about 17% are passenger vehicles.
“Yes, there is a proposal and we will discuss it with the industry representatives on the 21st (of July),” said Ajay Mathur, director general, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, or BEE, the body mandated to notify energy efficiency norms under the Energy Conservation Act of 2001.
A BEE official said a proposed agenda for the meeting had been faxed to industry representatives on 16 July.
However, industry representatives claim they are unaware of the impending changes. “Siam (the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) is not aware of the existence of this draft notification,” said Dilip Chenoy, director general of the auto lobby. “All we know is that there is a steering committee meeting on July 21.”
The exercise to come up with such norms began in late 2007.
Between February and June, BEE conducted a review of fuel economy characteristics of motor vehicles in India, considered possible regulatory structures and their benefits, and developed draft fuel economy standards and labelling requirements. Its technical committee recommended that separate fuel economy standards be followed for petrol and diesel vehicles.
The BEE proposal says: “The standards will be established using a front-runner approach for each of the nine vehicle weight classes presently used for setting emissions standards. In order to develop the standards, the BEE has developed a comprehensive database of fuel economy for individual Indian vehicle models, combined with vehicle sales data. Front-runner vehicles, which are defined as the vehicles leading their respective weight-class in terms of fuel economy, have been identified from the database.”
“We don’t want to set the standards at unrealistic levels. Each weight class has a huge variation between the best and the worst, which is why we have taken the average of the three top fuel efficient cars (in each weight category) as the minimum for each star and the best performer as the top level,” said the same official.
BEE anticipates that three-fourths of vehicle models in the market will receive a three- or four-star rating at present and the combination of fuel economy standards and labelling programme will provide the necessary impetus for development of several five-star rated vehicles by the end of first phase of labelling programme.
“We hope that this will give the right signals to the industry especially when it comes to hybrid vehicles,” said the official.
Preliminary estimates show that the labelling programme will result in up to 20% reduction in oil use in year 2030 (5 million tonnes, or mt, of oil in the low-growth scenario and 15 mt of oil in the high-growth scenario for the sector) just from passenger vehicles.
Ravi Krishnan contributed to this story.