India Accelerates Emissions Schedule

India has moved to implement Bharat Stage V and VI emissions standards for passenger vehicles three years earlier than planned, in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has drafted a plan to introduce the two sets of emissions norms for the four-wheel automobile sector three years sooner than its previously set dates of April 1, 2022 for the BS-V and April 1, 2024 for the BS-VI. The European Union began introducing equivalent standards in 2009. China is set to adopt China 5 - similar to BS-V - in 2018.

The road transport sector should take a lead role in reducing the harmful effects of emissions on environment and climate change, the ministry said in a statement last week. Accordingly, the ministry has now decided to implement BS-V norms from April 1, 2019. BS-VI norms, which aim at substantial reduction in [nitrogen oxide and carbon] levels will be implemented from April 1, 2021.

The ministry said it will announce drafts for similar advanced rollout dates for two- and three-wheel automobiles emissions norms soon as well.

Indias auto industry has sharply criticized the governments move, according to local media reports. Manufacturers have said it will take more time to validate new technology that will prepare them to meet new emission standards, and that they plan to ask the ministry to reconsider its decision.

Anuj Kumar, of U.S.-based consultancy Kline & Co.s Gurgaon, India, office, said oil refiners will need to make a hefty investment to meet the new standards sooner.

Compliance [with] the next stage of emission norms - BS-V and BS-VI - is a task that is predominantly achieved by the use of cleaner fuels, Kumar told Lube Report Asia. Heavy investment on the refinery side is required to produce such fuels. Advancement of deadline by three years means that refiners need to quickly make these refinery changes to produce and distribute these fuels across the country.

The lubricants industry will need to make swift changes as well, he continued. The lubricant contribution to emissions happens when lubricant is burnt along with the fuel during operation. There is already a major shift happening towards lighter grades of oils, driven by original equipment manufacturer recommendations. These lighter grades of engine oils are blended with API Group II and Group III base stocks and are cleaner in terms of their sulfur content. With the advancement of this deadline, the transition toward lighter grades of engine oils will be swifter.

Moreover, he said, emission control devices fitted in vehicles will also play a role in meeting the new norms.

A technology officer with a large lube supplier in India concurred that the lubricants industry must move to lower viscosity fluids to meet the norms. This would mean a change in base oils and newer, better additives for finished lubricants, he told Lube Report Asia.

In moving from a thicker conventional oil such as a 15W-40, to a thinner, new generation of oils including 5W-30 or 0W-30, a fuel economy increase of up to 3 percent is achievable in both diesel and gasoline cars. With the advancement of the deadline, he expects the nitrogen oxide portfolio to increasingly migrate toward thinner oils in India in the near future.

Thinner fluids require better-quality base stocks and additives to deliver the right performance both in terms of durability and fuel economy, he added. The recent trend of thin is in - led by OEMs like Maruti, Volkswagen, BMW and Honda - will impact Indias lube market in a positive way.

Indias government also announced last week that it will carry out extensive checks on all diesel passenger vehicles in the country within the next six months to uncover any violations of emission norms. A day before that, Volkswagen Group India had admitted to violations of emissions norms and announced a massive voluntary recall.