In 2016, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways announced that Bharat Stage VI emission standards will apply to all vehicles manufactured on or after April 1, 2020. That the Indian government is circumventing Bharat Stage V and leapfrogging to the more stringent and robust BS VI, speaks volumes of its commitment to align to European Union regulations and bring about giant positive leaps from the current BS III and IV levels.

With this notification, Light duty, heavy duty vehicles (LDVs and HDVs) and 2 wheelers will come almost at par with EU standards and while 3 wheeled vehicles will still not be completely there, stringent standards have been set for them.

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  1. Mass Emission Standards: Bharat Stage VI standards entail a tightening of the particulate matter (PM) emission limits and introduction of Particle Number (PN) for LDVs and HDVs with Gasoline Direct Engine, Compression Engine or Diesel Engine. This will herald the beginning of Diesel particulate filters to control PM emissions from new Diesel LDVs and HDVs.
  2. Type Approval Requirements and In Service Conformity: BS VI regulations have the in-built provision to measure emissions in the real world driving scenario using Portable Emissions Measurement Systems. (PEMS) The European Stationary Cycle and European Transient Cycle have been replaced by World Harmonised Steady State Cycle and World Harmonised Transient Cycle. These are more relevant to the current driving conditions and can better capture driving modes in which pollutant emissions are heightened. This will ascertain that emission standards captured in laboratory testing are rendered in real world driving conditions as well.
  3. On-Board Diagnostic System (OBD): BS VI regulations stipulate augmented OBD requirements for all vehicle categories. This is the first time 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles will also be brought under the purview of OBD, with limits on emissions of Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbons which are equivalent to light duty passenger vehicles.
  4. Durability: The mileage for 2 wheeled vehicles under BS VI norms has been set at 35000 km, which is equivalent to Euro-5 requirements. Durability of pollution control devices, deterioration factors and minimum distance requirement of 160,000 km follow Euro-6 standards in Light Duty Vehicles.
  5. Reference and Commercial Fuel Specifications: Along with the BS VI emission standards implementation, corresponding actions to ensure nation-wide supply of BS VI fuel have also been taken. This includes Diesel, Gasoline and Hydrogen. An important facet is the limit of 10 ppm on the maximum allowable sulphur content in gasoline and diesel fuels. However, all diesel and fuel provisos don’t follow European restrictions. For example: For commercial fuels sold in North Eastern states, a high aromatic content is allowed for gasoline. However, these provisions expire on April 1, 2023.

Although Indian regulations follow the EU norms for 4 wheeled vehicles, implementation has been laggard. However, on withdrawing the roadmap for adoption of BS V and VI scheduled for 2019 and 2021 respectively, and announcing pole vaulting to BS VI in 2020, India has set a significant global precedent. This will encourage other developing countries to expedite adoption of clean vehicle technologies and fuels. For India, this is extremely noteworthy and desirable, considering most of our cities are currently shrouded with very poor air quality.

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