The BS-III Nightmare

If you have been following the news off late, specially in the auto sector, you can not be unaware of the Supreme Court's order which bans the sale of BS-III vehicles in India 1st Apr'17 onwards. I am not going to discuss about what are emission norms etc. because you can read all about that on Wikipedia. What's important to discuss here is how the decision impacts the auto makers and the society. 

April 1st, 2017 was the deadline set by Indian Government for all the auto manufacturers to completely adapt the BS-IV emission norms. Keeping car makers aside, Bajaj was the first one to completely move its line-up to BS-IV standards and guess what, they move to Supreme Court to file a petition urging SC to stop the sales of BS-III vehicles, stating that there was enough time available for everyone to move from BS-III to BSIV. Its kinda funny and like that kid in school who had done his homework, makes the teacher to ask about the homework from the whole class. But then they also have a point. They were proactive enough to do the job well before the deadline, so as to keep minimum inventory of BS-III possible as the deadline approaches. I am sure they have done a good job. 

Now with the ban on the sale of BS-III vehicles, everyone woke up and rubbed their eyes. Its not that they were not aware of the new norms. I am not sure where the confusion lied because many or almost all of them assumed that the regulation meant only the production of BS-III vehicles needs to be stopped while the existing stock of BS-III vehicles can still be sold. However Supreme Court gave a big jolt to this assumption by banning the sale of BS-III. The result was that the companies ended with huge inventories of existing BS-III produced model at plant and dealership level. Around 8+ lacs vehicles (including 2W, 4W and commercial) was in question here. Some welcomed this decision while others expressed the loss this may bring to all the companies. Companies now had to think of a way to get rid of the inventories before 31st Mar'17. Result was heavy discounts by all which I haven't seen atleast in my lifetime. Navi at 25k, Navi free on the purchase of a CBR, 12k off by Hero, and wait a minute, even Bajaj had to join the gang who offered discounts to clear their BS-III stock. Bro when you haven't finished the homework yourself why do you go to the teacher?

Anyways, long story short, Supreme Court cited the reason of public health being more important than the financial loss which all the companies will incur. Fine sir, agreed, and this means the existing stock of BS-III vehicles shouldn't come into the system, right? That's the purpose the whole ban is supposed to serve. But now as I write this , its 1st of April 2017 and the latest updates are that with the help of heavy discounts, almost 95% of the 2W inventory is sold before the deadline of 31st Mar'17. 

Now if all the BS-III stock which the ban intended to prevent from coming into the system, is already sold, then the purpose of the ban is nullified. Who is benefited from this ban? No one. Who is at loss with this ban? Everyone. The only difference is that companies with the least BS-III stock will be at lesser loss, Bajaj being one of them.

With my own rough calculation on the data gathered, with BS-IV the impact of HC and CO gases will be cut by almost 50 to 60% (4Ws). Now lets see how this decision impacts the society? Not really, if we only talk about the ban of the BS-III stock in concern. Working on a rough estimate, the BS-III stock which was available with the auto makers (all of them combined) was around 6% of the total vehicles which are annualy sold in India. In other words, Supreme Court was trying to save the Indians from the (~60% more) pollution impact of those 6% of vehicles. As I said the ban has not helped and that 6% is already in the system. I don't deny that the BS-IV will have a better health impact. Actually a lot if you compare the pollution cost with the health cost. I fully support the upgrade of emission norms. The only concern is that existing BS-III vehicles will continue to be on road along with even older more polluting ones. Not sure how is this mix going to improve the pollution scenario, but in the longer run I hope it does. I even worked on a different scenario wherein a company will have to grow @ 130% to make its BS-IV vehicles more polluting than the BS-III ones hahah. That's never going to happen with any of them out there so don't worry. And guys the headlights will always be on on BSIV vehicles so please lets just stop the groping gesture alright?

By the way India is planning to skip the BS V norms altogether and move to BS-VI straightaway by 2020. Not even gonna mention the cost impact which will be passed to the customers from this one. But why the government does not want to invest in research and development of infrastrucure which supports electric vehicles? Clearly EVs are the future, but its still a long way to go until the technology becomes affordable to the common man and for that the path needs to be laid today if our thoughts and actions are in the right direction of improving public health and pollution control.
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