India’s discharge standards for cars will coordinate European models by 2020 as BS VI kicks in, four years sooner than arranged, and Mercedes-Benz India says it will be prepared with motors to meet the standard by 2018.
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Disregarding challenges from car producers, the government early this year chose to present the date for BS VI as rising contamination levels have choked cities. Mercedes Managing Director & CEO, Roland S Folger says the company fully supports the decision to move BS VI to 2020. “We think we would be ready even earlier and by 2018 Mercedes will be ready with new BS VI engines. This will lead to 80-90 % reduction in NOX values and particulate matter per vehicle,” says Folger.
Mercedes India has been hit by a court request that restricts the organization from selling diesel cars with a motor of 2000 cc or more. “We are still trying to gauge the impact of the ban on sales. The dealerships outside Delhi – NCR provided their allocated petrol engine cars and we were able to ship these cars to dealers in and around Delhi. We have not seen much suffering, but we still have to sit down with our dealers and find out the impact. At the moment, the impact is not very noticeable, but we haven’t seen all the figures yet,” says Folger.
The air cleanliness turned into a matter of enormous worry amid the winter months of 2015 and the Supreme Court had cinched on crisp enlistment of diesel vehicles with no less than 2000 cc motors till April 1, 2016, in India. “Air pollution was at its worse level ever and many were very concerned about the situation. The result of this discussion and to come out with a ban on 2 litre and above engines is something that I have never understood fully. The idea is to address X number of vehicles to have a noticeable change in air quality,” says Folger.
With Mahindra developing a 1.9-litre diesel engine, only cars from Mercedes, Toyota, Jaguar and Land Rover and to some extent Tata and BMW have been hit by the ban. “I would be surprised if this makes a change to the air quality. For car makers, it would be easy to change to a petrol engine and it is important for everyone to realize that it does not change the problem of air pollution. These interruptions have to lead to a holistic and a more long lasting approach to defining the problem and ways to address it. Hopefully, this ban goes away and we have a new constructive discussion on the road ahead,” says Folger.
Mercedes says the company is still very bullish on India and plans to add 10 new outlets to extend its reach. Mercedes launched 15 cars in 2015 and the company plans to keep the momentum this year with 12 launches. “There may be some vehicles that we would want to produce locally and if that happens we may need additional investment. We are looking at several models in our lineup, but it’s too early to say. We need to see the volume impact and customers reaction,” says Folger.