I think Supreme Court is making me think a lot currently and also giving me fodder for blogs! Thank you Sir! Today, 29/3/2017, they have thrown out a petition by both Govt and Vehicle Manufacturers, to allow Vehicle Manufacturers & their dealers to sell BS III vehicles beyond 31/3/2017, stating commercial reasons. Supreme Court said that this date was known to everybody for a long time and people’s health is more important than the commercial aspects of business. Period!
This blog of mine is not the usual comment on social aspects or musings. This is about an event in field of automobiles. I joined the industry in 1973 after passing my Master’s Degree in Engineering. I continue to work in the automotive field in auto components and software area. The subject is dear to my heart and I feel sad to see the way events have rolled out.
How do we compare with European manufacturers?
The table shows dates of introduction of various stages of emission norms and in most cases it is the beginning of the year i.e. 1st January.
|Bharat||Introduction Date||Euro||Introduction Date|
In early part of last decade, the technology for emission control was probably not available in India, at least initially. I remember having seen diesel vehicles bellowing smoke more than a chullah (a low cost brazier being used in India to cook daily food in villages.) So much for the technology of those days. To my knowledge there are three factors which governed emission control project. First is technology itself, quality of fuel sold by Govt owned companies and Will to introduce these changes.
We will compare with Europe and their Euro standards, from where we got our technology or Japan who are equally ahead in technology. For each stage, Europeans allowed three years for the manufacturers to switch to next stage. In Europe too, the implementation was done phase wise and not in one stroke. For reasons best known to all concerned, we in India allowed five years each for first two phases and seven years for the current phase switch over.
If we look at the technology, we simply got it from elsewhere, all that we had to do is to try it, test it and productionize it. It was collusion between the powers that be and vehicle manufacturers or simply lethargy, they simply decided that five years are needed and later seven years for BS III. Also there have been multinationals in India, from Europe and Japan. These companies already had the experience of stages, ahead of Bharat stages. For BS IV, Toyota has been selling BS IV vehicles since last one year.
Fuel in India is refined by oil companies owned by the Govt. Business size wise these companies are run on global scales. They are owned by Govt so what good excuse did they have not to refine the fuel as needed to achieve emission norms? Honestly I don’t see any reason, simply lethargy!
Next is the Will to handle emission control as a project! When Europeans could develop technology and productionize it every three years for next phase, why we needed five and seven years? It showed the simple lack of will and lethargy on part of all parties.
With the new Govt there appears to be a zeal to get things going. If you see the data above, Govt has now simply skipped Bharat V stage and decided to go for Bharat VI stage after Bharat IV. All these days, everybody thought that respite/relief will be given by all authorities including courts, when large number of vehicles of BS III variety remain in stock on the last day. But with Supreme Court result, the effect is same as demonetization action on 8th November. So, there appears to be similarities between these two events which can also be compared with surgical strike!
Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has submitted that the companies have a stock of 8, 24,275 BS III compliant vehicles which include 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two wheelers, 40,048 three wheelers and 16,198 cars.
Why have we reached this situation? From figures it appears that car manufacturers have done a tremendous job of managing their inventories of old vehicles. Next are two wheeler companies. The physical number will look high but if we compare it with the production per year, it is just 0.025 %! It is the commercial vehicles guys who have shown poor project management. Who is to blame? Why this has happened? Somebody in project management did not run a tight ship!
Has the industry learnt its lesson? We will come to know in 2020 when Bharat VI has to be introduced. The only option maybe to export these remaining BS III vehicles! Till then to overcome current situation of vehicle stocks, Indian ingenuity and jugad will come in play!