"(Live Mint) The switch to the new emission norms will lead to interesting shifts in the automotive and energy industries.Discuss.
• One important dimension of the new emission norms is the emphasis on meeting the norms at all times, not just under ideal testing conditions.
• Innovation can be driven by different stimuli—competition, inventive passion, the sheer need to survive. But in some industries, the biggest driver is regulatory change.
• The automotive industry has been facing such a situation over the last two decades. While the fact that automobiles are major contributors to environmental pollution is hardly new, highly visible signs of pollution, such as smog, low visibility and respiratory ailments, have given a sense of urgency to the need to control vehicular emissions.
• This has manifested itself in city-wide initiatives like the odd-even scheme, localized events like “no car” days, and major changes in regulation like the government’s recent announcement of an accelerated jump from Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) to BS VI norms, leapfrogging BS V.
• Emission control is the mantra of not only the oil companies (who have to make huge investments to meet the 10ppm sulphur norms of BS VI) and vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but tyre and lubricant manufacturers as well.
• The focus of the BS VI norms is on NOx (short for nitrogen oxide), sulphur and particulates. Control of these pollutants depends primarily on improving the input fuels and processing the waste products that come out of the engine.
• Cars have become more electronic these days and this trend will continue as electronic control units will be required to monitor and manage the increasing complexity in the engine and the rest of the vehicle.
• Unlike in the past where tighter emission norms went hand-in-hand with better fuel economy because the focus was on reducing carbon emissions, lowering NOx emissions will reduce fuel economy as fuel will have to be burnt to create the required temperatures for effective neutralization of non-carbon emissions.
• New engines that meet BS VI standards will need BS VI fuel wherever they go, so the whole country will have to move to BS VI simultaneously, unlike in the case of the earlier BS standards where partial implementation was possible. However, the move to BS VI will not pose a problem for existing vehicles because backward compatibility will be maintained, i.e., old engines will continue to work with BS VI fuel. Of course, the benefits of the shift to BS VI fuel will be muted to start with, as only a small proportion of the engines (only new vehicles) will be designed for BS VI standards.
• Clearly, exciting yet complex times are ahead for innovation in the automotive sector.
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