Swaraj BaggonkarMoneycontrol Bajaj Auto
Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj hit out at auto makers who have dragged their feet on starting production of BS-IV vehicles even as the Pune-based company becomes the only two-wheeler player to switch to the new norm.
Bajaj warned that if manufacturers are given amnesty to sell Bharat Stage III (BS-III) vehicles even after the April 1 deadline then the same industry will refuse to take seriously the BS-VI deadline of April 1, 2020, too, thereby defeating the very purpose of having a cleaner environment.
The government had mandated that from April 1, 2016 all new models sold in country have to be BS-IV compliant while the remaining models can be upgraded by March 31, 2017. This is the first time that the government adopted a two-phase strategy for the roll-out of a new emission norm.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex lobby body of the automobile industry, has claimed that the industry be given time to exhaust its BS-III stock of vehicles for which the set deadline of April 1, 2017 is insufficient.
“I can create a year’s stock of any of my motorcycle and sell them at lower rates compared to the industry over a period of next 12 months or as long as my stock lasts. But that will certainly not be the right thing to do,” said Bajaj speaking to the media in Mumbai.
SIAM has given the reason of high inventory levels within the industry, lower demand due to demonetization and notification of the ministry of road transport and highway (MoRTH) for allowing sale of old stock beyond the cut-off date.
“The issue is not stocks (inventory). The issue is that the industry wants to keep pumping BS-III stock into the market place. If there is any granting of amnesty our submission is that one who has done it on time is at a disadvantage and those who have chosen to be complacent or who are perhaps incompetent or perhaps a combination of both are going to keep selling the more polluting stuff for longer at lower prices. Obviously, this is not fair," added Bajaj.
Bajaj further added that the company had come to know about a presentation to be made by SIAM to the government on the onset of BSIV. “We have written to SIAM telling them we don’t want to be a part of that presentation,” added Bajaj.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority which was reconstituted by the SC last year challenged the MoRTH order. EPA states that ‘if the order has to be followed in its true spirit’ then vehicles which do not comply with BS-IV norms should not be allowed to be registered and sell after April 1.
While many manufacturers are yet to completely upgrade to BS-IV, players like two-wheeler major Bajaj Auto has already fully made the switch. The Pune-based company has thus raised prices by Rs 1,000-2,000 across product lines including three-wheelers because of the switch. Toyota Kirloskar switched to BS-IV last year itself.
Experts say that since not every two-wheeler maker has upgraded its products to BS-IV it puts Bajaj Auto at a pricing disadvantage compared to its rivals who are still selling their products with BS-III engines.