A fresh Supreme Court (SC) order has put automakers in a tight spot. The apex court on Wednesday banned the sale of Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) vehicles in the country, with effect from April 1, 2020.

The order, passed by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur, said that only BS-VI compliant vehicles would be allowed to sell or register in the country from April 1, 2020. The need of the hour was to move to a cleaner fuel, the bench said.

The government has set up BS emission standard to control the degrading air quality. BS-VI, which is based on the European regulations (Euro norms) and originally to be introduced in 2024, has been now rescheduled to 2020, instead. And, the country will move directly from BS-IV to BS-VI.

In August, the government had proposed to give auto manufacturers time till June 30, 2020, to sell their BS-VI non-compliant four-wheelers, and to give a grace period till September 30, 2020, for the sale of non-compliant heavy transport vehicles.

Some automakers were expecting a grace period today to clear their stock. Last year, many of them had informed the SC about the technological difficulties in meeting the 2020 deadline.

India is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 33-35% by 2030. The court’s verdict is being hailed as a step forward in that direction.

Analysts are optimistic that vehicle makers will be able to plan well ahead to meet the new norm. “This strengthens the belief that the government is serious about policy implementation without much of ambiguity left there. This has come at a fairly advanced time. They still have more than a year to comply,” said Sridhar V, partner, Grant Thornton India.

“It gives enough time to automakers to plan their inventories unlike the BS-IV situation where it came almost closer to the date. There wasn’t any clear communication from the government as well which put some of the vehicle manufacturers in a fix that time.”

“This is no shocker. The government had already announced in 2016 about moving to BS-VI. There is enough time. One has to plan to liquidate the existing stock accordingly before the new norms are in place,” said an official from a leading vehicle maker.

Some automobile companies are already ahead of the curve in meeting the 2020 deadline. “We are geared to meet the future challenges associated with the roll-out of BS-VI technology. Toyota Kirloskar has always been at the forefront in offering advanced and environment-friendly motoring technologies complying with the stringent emission standards globally," said a Toyota Kirloskar Motor spokesperson.

Earlier this month, BMW India added a new petrol version of X1 SUV with a BS-VI compliant engine to its portfolio.

Similarly, the new version of Tata Harrier SUV also gets a BS-VI-ready diesel engine with low friction valve train architecture and an advanced exhaust gas recirculation system to meet the stringent emission and efficiency norms.

Nifty Auto Index dropped 0.09% soon after the SC order, but recovered later to close 0.17% higher at 8,663.90 on Wednesday.

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