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Last Updated : Sep 21, 2019 04:40 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

This week in Auto: Vehicle scrapping policy in final leg; Should the government not interfere in technology development?

Here is the complete look at all the major headlines from the automotive sector.

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb
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Gestation periods in new technologies are a long drawn affair which require companies to set up dedicated verticals to achieve their goals. Automotive companies usually follow a roadmap laid down by the government to achieve emission and fuel economy targets.

In India, however, there are as many as six authorities including the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Department of Heavy Industries, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Power and NITI Aayog dictating terms to the automotive sector.

Many times these authorities do not coordinate with each other leading to a gap in communication and leaving the sector confused. In today’s wrap we take a look at this point in greater detail. But here is the complete look at all the major headlines from the automotive sector.

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Government to track auto recalls

The first eight months in 2019 have seen automotive companies recall more than 85 percent of the total vehicle recalls done in 2018.

More than 2.12 lakh two-wheelers, cars and sports utility vehicles have been recalled between January-August by more by more than a dozen manufacturers that make scooters, sedans, hatchbacks and luxury car models.

Compact SUV overtake compact sedan sales

Buoyed by two new launches, compact sports utility vehicles (SUV) have emerged as a stand-out segment in India’s domestic car market, even as each of the other segments has borne the brunt of the worst auto slowdown in decades.

For the first time ever, the segment, which includes the likes of Mahindra XUV 300, Maruti Suzuki Brezza and Tata Nexon, has outsold the compact sedan segment, which has cars like Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Tata Tigor.

Tata Motors EV to debut in Jan-Mar quarter

Tata Motors will launch an all-new electric vehicle in the January-March quarter of this year featuring a new in-house developed technology called Ziptron.

The company has not disclosed the vehicle type that it would be launching but market sources expect it to be the electric version of the Altroz premium hatchback, the petrol version of which will debut in a few months.

Hero, Yamaha and Polarity launch electric bicycles

Hero Cycles, India’s largest bicycle maker, launched an electric bicycle in association with Yamaha and Mitsui. Called the Lectro e-Cycle, the premium bicycle is available at a cost of Rs 1.35 lakh.

Pune-based e-mobility startup Polarity on September 20 launched a range of six high capacity electric bicycles, available at a starting price of Rs 38,000 (ex-showroom). These pedal-assisted bicycles sport different grades of electric motors, helping it achieve top-speed ranging from 40 kmph to 100 kmph.

Vehicles scrapping policy to be out soon

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on September 19 said the Cabinet will soon decide on the proposed vehicle scrapping policy. The Road Transport and Highways Minister stated that he has cleared a Cabinet note on the proposed policy and the Finance Ministry has also approved the same.

"I have signed the file for the Cabinet note on the policy for the scrapping of old vehicles. Finance Ministry has approved the note on it,” Gadkari said on the sidelines of an event here. He said the note will now be circulated to ministries concerned and the Cabinet was likely to take a call on it soon.

Govt should look into emission targets not ways to reach it

The automotive industry is urging the government to allow it to work independently of federal policies formed to curb emissions with a hope that it will simplify product and technology development.

At a recent press briefing announcing the introduction of next generation Tata Motors electric vehicle technology, Managing Director Guenter Butschek made a plea to the government to allow the automotive industry to develop technology that would meet all future norms.

“Let the government determine the emission standards. Technology is a competitive factor, let the government not interfere in it”, said Butschek just before unveiling a fast charging enabled electric vehicle platform called Ziptron.

Around three to four years ago the government surprised the automotive world with its decision to skip the scheduled next level of emission standard Bharat Stage (BS) V and jump directly to BS-VI from the current BS-IV. No other country in the world has ever made such a leap before.

Concerned with rising pollution levels the government wanted to pull up India to the emission standards followed by the rest of the developed world. When BS-VI officially comes into effect on April 1, 2020, India will join the European countries which are under Euro V norms, the most advanced emission norms in practice.

While initially automotive companies erupted in protest over what it termed was ‘impossible to achieve in just four years what the world took eight years to achieve’, companies eventually fell in line with the government remaining firm on its decision.

But since then there have been several flip-flops by the government. Government-appointed agencies spoke in favour of completely banning petrol, diesel, CNG, LPG vehicles by 2030. They also recommended a ban on below 150 cc petrol-powered two-wheelers by 2025 and three-wheelers by 2023. In between there rose uncertainty over the future of hybrids – whether or not it will become the technology of the immediate future.

Some other agencies spoke in favour of pushing CNG, bio-diesel and 100 percent ethanol in a hope to bring down the huge oil import bill. These fuels are also much cheaper than petrol and diesel but available in limited supply. The government is also said to be keen on making hydrogen - often regarded as the cleanest fuel with maximum mileage - as the fuel of the future.

After the onset of BS-VI, carmakers have to worry about the corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) norms that will kick-in from 2022. As per these norms, carmakers will have to improve the fuel economy by as much as 30 percent from 2022. This has to be done in the absence of diesel since most carmakers are giving up that fuel because of high costs.

Carmakers are routing for a single authority that can formulate terms and regulations and address key issues of the industry. The National Automotive Board (NAB), which was to be brought into being years ago still remains on paper.

The NAB was to become the window for the automotive companies to deal with the government directly. The government may thus revive plans of jump starting the NAB

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First Published on Sep 21, 2019 04:37 pm
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