As India shifts gears to meet its net-zero target by 2070, the transition towards clean energy and multiple decarbonisation initiatives will optimise the use of the country's energy mix and reduce the proportion of fossil fuels over the long run.
Since the Indian automotive industry has always been a key indicator of the nation’s economic growth, contributing to approximately 6.5 per cent of India’s overall gross domestic product; 40 per cent of its manufacturing GDP and supporting about 30 million direct and indirect jobs, the growth of this industry should be in sync with the government’s vision of ‘green growth’.
The clear roadmap laid down by the government to ultimately reach the target of net zero by 2070 as outlined in ‘Panchamrit’, announced by the Prime Minister during COP 26 held in Glasgow in 2021, would be the guiding factor for the industry. ‘Panchamrit’ also has short-term and mid-term goals for the country. including reduction in carbon intensity. Clean-energy solutions in the transportation sector would play an important role in achieving these goals, as our new vehicles continue to become increasingly carbon benign.
In order to align with these government targets, the auto industry adopted BS VI Phase 2 Emission Norms from April 2023, just three years after transiting to BS VI Emission norms in 2020. The industry graduated to the next stage of fuel efficiency norms, for passenger vehicles, from 2022 and is meeting the new fuel efficiency regulations for commercial vehicles from April 2023. These have resulted in the introduction of new products in the market ranging from electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, CNG / LNG vehicles and vehicles capable of operating on petrol blended with up to 20 per cent of ethanol.
Going forward, the industry would need to continue to build on a strong foundation of sustainability, environmental consciousness and safety. Hence, a range of initiatives have been introduced by the Indian automobile industry under the aegis of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). The six key initiatives being pursued are as follows:
The first is biofuels. Through a campaign called ‘Javik Pahal’, the industry promotes biofuels produced from renewable biological materials. Alternative fuels can play a pivotal role to power vehicles, reducing the reliance on petroleum imports, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and also improving farmer incomes.
The second relates to the focus on electrification via the initiative of ‘Vidyutikaran’ that aims to promote alternatives to fossil fuels by powering vehicles with electric batteries, fuel cells and hybrid or plug-in hybrid technologies.
The third pertains to ‘Chakriyata’, an initiative focusing on recycling and the circular economy. This will minimise waste and ensure that resources are used efficiently and sustainably. The Indian automobile industry will steadfastly support the recycling of end-of-life vehicles and material circularity across different types of power trains to foster environmental sustainability.
The fourth initiative is linked to encouraging adoption of gas-based fuels through a campaign of ‘Gas Gatisheelta’, which retains the focus on CNG and LNG-based mobility, especially for passenger vehicles, three-wheelers, buses and trucks.
The fifth is the focus on hydrogen mobility through an initiative called ‘Harit Hydrogen’ in alignment with the recently announced Green Hydrogen Mission of the government.
The sixth and final initiative is associated with road safety through a campaign on ‘Surakshit Safar’ (Safe Journey). Safety is the prime pillar in this initiative as India accounts for the highest number of road fatalities worldwide at 11 per cent, despite having only 1 per cent of the world’s vehicles. To address this concern, the Indian automobile industry is working with multiple stakeholders to execute the ‘4 Es’ of Road Safety: Education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency care. To support this, Indian OEMs have upgraded their vehicles’ engineering standards in tandem with the UN norms for new and advanced safety features. Moreover, the government is continuously expanding the pan-India network of high-quality roads and highways, which calls for more focus on the entire narrative of ‘Surakshit Safar’.
The auto industry did demonstrate its commitment to the government’s overall ‘Green Growth’ agenda during Auto Expo – The Motor Show 2023 in Greater Noida. What clearly stood out at the show was an excellent showcase of vehicles using different types of power-train technologies ranging from gaseous fuels like a CNG / LNG, to bio fuels like ethanol or flex fuel vehicles, to electric vehicles including Battery Electric & Hybrid, to even hydrogen vehicles. This demonstrated the direction the Indian automobile industry has taken to move towards sustainable mobility and de-carbonisation.
As the Indian economy further strengthens in spite of global geo-political and economic headwinds, there is no doubt the Indian automobile industry will be instrumental in steering the path towards greater green growth and market buoyancy.
The writer is president, SIAM, and MD & CEO, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles Ltd.
These are the personal opinions of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the views of www-business-standard-com-nalsar.knimbus.com or the 'Business Standard' newspaper