Auto cos oppose govt’s plan to introduce fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars

New Delhi: The government’s attempts to introduce fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars have come a cropper with the auto industry expressing strong reservations on proposed carbon dioxide emission targets, five-star rating system and the year of introduction of norms.

A technical committee, comprising industry experts and officials of road transport ministry and power ministry, has been formed to formulate a final draft of fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars under the Energy Conservation Act . The committee has been trying hard to hammer out an agreement with car manufacturers in terms of carbon dioxide emission targets that the industry needs to achieve by 2015 and then 2020. The final attempt of the government on Friday to make the industry come around to its proposed norms drew a blank. Sources said that there was a deadlock as the manufacturers felt the government was forcing very tough emission limits to be achieved by 2015.

The industry also wants the year of introduction to be shifted from 2015 to 2017, a proposal which was rejected completely by the government on Friday. A senior road transport ministry official said: “There would not be any further meetings. There is no agreement. While a section of the industry has agreed to some parts of the proposal, the others are not coming around at all. We will frame the guidelines and put them in the public domain at one meeting called with all stakeholders.”

With the introduction of these standards for motor vehicles, India hopes to bring down emissions by 2% every year. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the power ministry has proposed that the norms be rolled out in 2015 and it be made mandatory for all car manufacturers to declare how their product fares on a five-star rating system. This would enable the consumer to know how the car he is buying fares on price and fuel efficiency as compared to other models in the same segment.

The main aim of the proposed standards is to gradually bring down “fuel efficiency per gram of carbon dioxide emission to the vehicle weight”. This is called “Corporate Average Fuel Economy” or CAFE. Sources said BEE has proposed that fuel economy of 128 grams/CO2 per kilometre be achieved by 2015. The industry, however, feels that this is too strict and the limit should be 142 grams/CO2 per kilometre.

With Friday’s meeting headed for a deadlock, the government gave one final proposal of fixing the limit of 135 grams/CO2 per kilometre. However, the industry representatives did not agree to this either. When contacted by ET, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) president Dr Pawan Goenka refused to be drawn into the controversy saying, “I will not like to comment on the issue now.”

The industry has also expressed reservations over the star-rating system. SIAM has pointed out that as per the proposed system there are car models with an average mileage of 14 km per litre in five-star category and some with 16 km per litre in three-star category. SIAM has expressed these reservations in successive meetings with the technical committee.
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