India on track for BS6 compliance

Historically, India struggled to keep pace with global emissions regulations. After several years of deliberations and postponements between 2010 and 2014, Bharat Stage 4 was finally implemented nationwide in 2017. India is now catching up with global emissions standards and has decided to skip BS5 and leapfrog to BS6, which might be a great strategic initiative for the country to come up to par with technologies around the world. Regulators have established aggressive targets for the industry to comply with BS6 standards. As per the government mandate, it will be implemented nationwide on April 1, 2020.

The decision was initially met with skepticism and apprehension. Major players in the industry believed the target was too aggressive and difficult to meet in such a short span of time. There was indifference to the announcement, especially with the known history of delays in implementation of previous emissions standards. The industry strongly claimed that the fuel infrastructure would not be available within the stipulated timeline.

It is interesting to note that India started the adoption of Euro 1 emission regulations, but systematically lagged behind China as China pushed itself to become a growth engine of the world, and used its automotive industry as a major catalyst in its evolution to economic superpower. The table shows how India and China will be at par with global emissions regulations by 2020-2021. The fastest growing economies in the world are also driving a lot on investments in R&D in the commercial vehicles space, raising the standard and technology in the marketplace.

Going by the experience of BS4 and the conviction of the government, they have already made the fuel available in New Delhi and the surrounding NCR region as of April 1, 2018. This has given a strong signal to the industry and most of the manufacturers in India are taking regulatory compliances more seriously than ever before. Additionally, India took a high moral stance at the Paris Climate Accord in 2017 and is among a handful of major polluters who are on track to achieve the national targets set to address climate change under the Paris Agreement.

A derivative of EURO 6, BS6 standards require a 68 percent reduction in NOx emissions from compression ignition (diesel) engines and set a limit of 4.5 mg/km of particulate matter (PM) emissions in engines with direct fuel injection. Beginning in 2023, these standards will also require diesel engines to comply to a PM number limit, which was historically absent. In addition to tailpipe emission norms, fuel emission norms are becoming more stringent. A vehicle weighing around 1040 kg in 2016 will have to improve its fuel efficiency from about 18km/L to 22 km/L in 2022.

Where the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle segment is concerned, the industry is sprinting to catch up with the government deadline. Many investments have already been made to cope with the change, and many are in the pipeline. Since the engine technologies are set up for a major overhaul, most of the OEM’s are utilizing this opportunity to turn the tide in their favor by integrating other safe and efficient technologies like brake energy regeneration and engine brakes. They are setting the stage to upgrade the overall powertrain technologies, and we strongly anticipate a major change in the market share pie, weighed heavily in favor or companies that offer engine braking as just one way to cut themselves out of lowest cost mindset and use superior technology as a differentiator.