Development of Vehicular Fuel Efficiency Norms and Labeling in India - Uniqueness of Challenging Scenario 2009-26-0029
India has followed European safety and emission norms while Japanese vehicles contributed the most in Indian automobile growth and made fuel efficiency as one of the most important unregulated market force. Global energy security and CO2 abatement concern has precipitated current policy debate in India as how to legislate vehicular fuel efficiency norms and labeling. Besides, growth imperatives of Indian automobile industry, safer, eco-friendly and affordable mobility have eluded any straight forward regulatory solution to this problem. Uniqueness of existing dual emissions & fuels quality norms in India, connectedness of multiple governmental agencies, current level of marketed vehicle technology for different segments, contribution of future safety and emissions regulations, operating conditions, infrastructure efficiencies to fuel economy, absence of comprehensive administrative mechanism, enforcement limitations and increased risk of litigation have made task of developing vehicular fuel efficiency norms and labeling in India even more complex.
This paper attempts to review in Indian context relevance of approach being followed by different countries for developing fuel efficiency norms and labeling. It justifies why for India it is desirable to start with voluntary or optimum mandatory fuel efficiency norms in near terms followed by phase wise approach of tightening and category widening in medium and long term. It highlights the need for setting up an administrative mechanism capable of collection, update, analysis, reporting, monitoring and verification of fuel efficiency test data prior to mandating fuel efficiency norms and labeling. It highlights how Indian 2/3 wheelers, 4-wheeled passenger and transport vehicles have reached different level of technological and market maturity and any hurried attempts to regulate fuel efficiency norms at one go across segments could prove to be counter productive. It accentuates a rationale that vehicle technology advancement alone will not reap us desired benefits until fleet modernization, vehicle end of life, infrastructure efficiencies, traffic management and fiscal measures are given due importance.