India took a large step toward reducing its very high levels air pollution Wednesday with the implementation of its Bharat Stage VI automobile emissions standards.
The move marks an unprecedented leap, bringing one of the world’s largest developing nations roughly on par with European Union emissions regulations. It also significantly raises the quality of lubricants that will be required in new cars, trucks and motorcycles.
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Countries around the world have steadily ratcheted controls the past couple decades on pollutants emitted from automobiles, including soot, nitrous oxides and hydrocarbons. Standards have mostly been written first in developed markets with the largest auto industries – European Union, the United States and Japan – and then adopted with some lags in developing markets.
Many countries have modeled their regulations on the EU’s Euro standards, but India is the first major market to skip a level. In 2016 its government decided it would jump straight from Bharat Stage IV to Bharat Stage VI, bypassing a stage V in order to speed the improvement of India’s air quality, which is among the worst in the world. B.S. VI is equivalent to Euro VI, which the EU implemented in 2015 and 2016.
The Indian government’s new regulation prohibits the sale or registration of new vehicles that do not meet B.S. VI after April 1. Automakers won a small reprieve recently when the nation’s Supreme Court gave them until later this month to sell models compliant with B.S. IV – a concession granted because sales slumped steeply the past couple months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vehicle prices in India are expected to rise significantly because of the costs of emissions control technologies. Costs for engine oils are also expected to increase as lubricants must be reformulated to accommodate emissions control technologies.