Business Today

Vision 2011: Only 'Fuel Efficient' Cars in India

Vehicles will have to drive at or above a to-be-determined number of kilometres per litre, writes Daniella Grossman.

Daniella Grossman        Print Edition: November 15, 2009

With the Copenhagen climate change conference coming up in December, India is getting its act together to make vehicular efficiency mandatory and introduce new fuel economy norms by 2011. The country’s efforts to green its roadways started with its first emission regulation in 1989.

By 2000, the government started adopting Europe’s emission and fuel standards for four-wheelers. In the meantime, auto makers and oil companies have had to develop new technologies to keep up with the various Bharat Stage regulations, which were rounded out by a national fuel policy in 2003.

Now as the climate change conference draws nearer, India has taken a third crucial step. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced the mandate in September, when the government reported that nationwide emissions could reach anywhere from 4 billion to 7.3 billion tonnes by 2031. Every Indian would have to plant about 18 trees a year to offset that damage, according to Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide calculator.

The government announced these standards as part of an overall energy-efficiency mission to slow greenhouse gas growth. All vehicles will have to drive at or above a to-bedetermined number of kilometres per litre; the higher the number, the more “efficient” the vehicle is. Carmakers, too, have offered their support in adhering to these norms.

“I think it’s important from a national point of view, to have a proactive agenda to deal with (fuel efficiency),” says Dilip Chenoy, Director General, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. “It’s an important competitive positioning for the industry, so we need to have a standard method to arrive at fuel efficiency and a standard declaration in the interests of consumers.”

Legislative follow-up, however, will have to wait until Parliament’s winter session, when fuel efficiency is introduced as an amendment to the Energy Conservation Act. While this proposal isn’t fixing a target for carbon emissions, it’s a step towards the consensus-building that India will need in Copenhagen.

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