In 2011, cars to come with star ratings on energy efficiency

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under the power ministry, along with the Ministry of Road and Surface Transport has finalised Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency -- where the fuel economy of an entire fleet of a car manufacturing company is measured.

"There is a fair degree of movement on standards and labelling for automobiles and the principles on which this will be done have been largely agreed to. So I presume that very soon we should be able to announce the standards and labelling programmes for automobiles," BEE Director General Ajay Mathur told IANS.

However, it will take some time before this is implemented.

The BEE has been mandated by the Prime Minister's Office to stipulate the norms under the Energy Conservation Act.

The labelling scheme was launched in 2006 and is currently invoked for equipments/appliances like frost-free refrigerators, tubular fluorescent lamps, room air-conditioners, direct cool refrigerator, distribution transformer, induction motors, pump sets, ceiling fans, LPG, electric geysers and colour TVs.

"Standards and labelling will be done for automobiles -- SUVs, cars, other four wheelers -- but it doesn't include trucks and two-wheelers. After we complete this we will start the process of how we can enhance the fuel efficiency of two-wheelers and trucks," said Mathur.

Under the scheme, in a stipulated time span all vehicles would have to follow star ratings or else they will not be allowed to sell.

Earlier, the BEE was considering to have a minimum energy performance standard for each model, but then it was realised that some units of security vehicles may have heavy energy requirement.

"Therefore we thought of limiting it to the manufacturer to decide how they would offset such vehicles with more efficient vehicles, so that they are able to reach a prescribed standard," he said.

This would mean that a company can sell a polluting vehicle if it is offset by a highly fuel-efficient vehicle in its basket and the average fuel efficiency of the entire segment is adhered to.

To make it easy for the automobile industry to adopt the standards, the BEE has planned to harmonise the energy efficiency labelling with emission norms.

"We have decided that the standards would be announced for the year that harmonizes with the requirements on the emissions side. For example, if the next Bharat norm comes in 2015 our standard will also come into force in 2015," he said.

"We are focussing on a long-term approach. So we have something in 2015 and something in 2020, so that the industry is very comfortable and knows what the long-term picture is and can make their designs and investments accordingly," he said.

"We have also agreed on a common database for fuel efficiency numbers (limits) and our discussions are currently on this," Mathur said.

The BEE has got positive response from the industry, which has assured all cooperation.

"The automobile industry takes some time before it  does the designs and makes changes in its production lines and bring things into the field. The discussions have been very positive," he said.     

According to official figures, India has 14 million cars and three million SUVs.

At present the automobile industry is growing at a rate of 14 to 17 percent per annum and annual sales growth is over 12 percent.

The objectives of the Standards and Labelling Programme is to provide the consumer an informed choice about the energy saving, and thereby the cost saving potential of the equipment. This is expected to impact the energy savings in the medium and long run while at the same time it will position the domestic industry to compete in such markets
where norms for energy efficiency are mandatory.

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