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Embracing change: Transition from BS 4 to BS 6

BS6 norms will be applicable from 1st April, 2020 and we have less than 6 months to the deadline. The leapfrog from BS4 to BS6 regulation has been one of the most talked about topic in the Indian Auto Industry since 2016. However the customer at large may or may not understand the technicalities of the change in emission norms., however they would relate this big change with the increased pollution during the winter months and expect some changes going forward. It is a different matter that the higher AQI especially in NCT and northern states during winters has been attributed to the high level of Particulate Matter suspended in the air coming from bio-mass burning and a host of unfavorable metrological conditions, . The report released by IIT Kanpur in 2015 stated that the major contributors to PM emissions are dust (Road & Construction) (38%), Vehicles (20%), Industries (11%), and Bio-Mass burning (12%), which lead to high levels of pollution in the winter months, especially around the harvest season. Many other similar studies conducted post 2015 also suggested a similar impact on the pollution levels. Of the vehicular pollution, cars and jeeps contribute less than 10% of the vehicular PM 2.5 in the air, i.e about 2% on an overall basis.

Focusing on the Auto Industry role, All internal combustion engines, which power the vehicles of today use Petrol& Diesel, which comprises of complex hydrocarbons including impurities like Sulphur etc. The energy generated by burning of fuel in the engine propels the vehicle. During the process, exhaust gases like Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), unburnt Hydrocarbons (HC) and Particulate Matter (PM) generated are released into the atmosphere. However there are standards, notified by Government, limiting the extent to which vehicles can release the exhaust gases into atmosphere.

With the introduction of BS6 regulations, the standard governing the emission levels have become more stringent. Compared to BS4, the upgraded BS6 petrol vehicles emit 25% less NOx and considerably bring down the PM emission levels of Diesel Vehicles by 80%.

The Leapfrog

In Europe, the transition from Euro 4 to Euro 6 took place in 2 steps transitioning through Euro 5, over a 10 year period. In India, the transition from BS4 to BS6 is is happening in just 3 years. Once the transition to BS6 takes place, the Indian automobile Industry will be at par with the Euro 6 regulations.

To meet the BS6 norms, automakers are upgrading the existing engines with new after treatment devices. Further, they are also developing new engines to meet the rigorous requirements. kipping the BS5 stage altogether, is unparalled in the global Auto industry. Moreover, the new regulations will mean substantial investments in technologies and will subsequently drive up the vehicle prices across segments.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has mandated that pan India only BS6 vehicles will be registered from April 2020. This implies that Automakers will have to phase in the new engines & vehicles before March 2020. Keeping in mind the scale of automobile sector, this shifting will mean converting as high as 1000 variants/modelsincluding 2Wheelers, 3Wheelers, Cars and Heavy commercial vehicles simultaneously in this short span of 3 years.

In addition to the Auto industry, the oil industry is also working overtime to meet the April 2020 deadline as they need to ready BS6 grade fuel for the BS6 compliant vehicles. Simultaneously, the refineries too have to be upgraded Currently the BS6 fuel is available only in some districts of NCR region. The complete transition from BS4 fuel to BS6 fuel is is scheduled to be completed across India by Mar 2020.

Fuel interchangeability

The caution point for the customer is that while BS6 Petrol vehicles can run on BS4 grade fuel without any operational issues, most of the Diesel BS6 vehicles will require BS6 fuel only. This means that while the transition of Petrol vehicles will happen early on, the shift to Diesel BS6 vehicles will be determined by the availability of BS6 grade Diesel fuel, which may only happen towards the last quarter of 2019-20.

Maruti Suzuki took early lead among its competitors by rolling out BS6 Petrol variants for popular Alto and Baleno models in April 2019. Consecutively, BS6 petrol variants of WagonR, Swift, Dzire, Ertiga and XL6 were launched in the market. The new model S Presso is also BS6 compliant.

The Auto Industry is currently in the grip of a slowdown. The Industry has degrown ___% in the last 6 months. The timing of introduction of BS6 vehicles & the availability of fuel across the country may hav a bearing on its adoption by consumers. The consumer acceptance of the higher price for BS6 vehicles is adding to unpredictableness for the automobile Industry in terms of inventory control.

With less than six months to go for BS6 regulation to kick in, the Auto Industry is committed to make this transition and take its share of responsibility to improve the Air Quality in India.

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