A big leap in difficult times: BS-VI shift to test automakers' resilience

Despite the prolonged slowdown, most were ready to launch BS-VI-compliant models in 2019 but the problem of unsold BS-IV inventory at the dealer-end became aggravated
As India battles the Covid-10 pandemic, the big shift from the BS-IV to BS-VI emission norms will take effect in 24 hours. In the three years from BS-IV to BS-VI, car makers had to overhaul the entire manufacturing ecosystem to ensure calibration that fits in well with the technology choices, while keeping a tight leash on costs. Together with their suppliers, automakers pumped in Rs 10,000 crore for the changeover.

Home-grown manufacturers such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor, and Hero MotoCorp had no prior experience. It was tougher for firms that had products spanning several categories, ranging from cars and SUVs to two-wheelers and trucks.  Such a portfolio meant that the firms had to invest more resources and time to build the requisite capabilities for executing this. Tata Motors had 34 different engines and 150 vehicle programmes that had to be fitted with BS-VI engines, said a company official.

“M&M’s BS-VI compliance is a story as much of technology, planning, and programme management as it is a story of the determination of the 700-strong team that has worked for the past three years to make BS-VI happen, along with partners,” said Pawan Goenka, managing director, M&M earlier on his firm’s preparedness.

For multinationals, it was relatively easier. “The BS-VI is another design of engines like BS-IV, with a few specific design and hardware differences. So once the design got frozen, it was simply a matter of programming the machines and giving training to the technicians to handle one more variant of engine,” said Ganesh Mani, director, production at Hyundai Motor India.

Despite the prolonged slowdown, most were ready to launch BS-VI-compliant models in 2019 but the problem of unsold BS-IV inventory at the dealer-end became aggravated because of the nationwide lockdown that has made sales difficult for the six days in March.

According to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association, 105,000 two-wheelers, 2,250 passenger cars and 2,000 commercial vehicles have been sold but not registered throughout India because of the lockdown.  Some 700,000 two wheelers, 15,000 passenger cars and 12,000 commercial vehicles are lying unsold.

In response to this situation, the Supreme Court, which had earlier refused any extension of the April 1 deadline for registering vehicles, last week allowed the sale and registration of 10 per cent of such vehicles till 10 days after the lockdown is lifted, barring Delhi-NCR.


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