So the car of the common man Maruti 800 will no longer be sold in the metros. A new set of environmental regulations come into force tomorrow, 1st April, onwards. It will be sad because, from personal experience, Maruti 800 is one car that is best suited for the stressful and jammed Mumbai roads. It is light, easy to manouver and can squeeze into the smallest spaces (very important when it comes to parking).

There are a few other cars also on the list but one does not have that much of an attachment with them as the Maruti 800. I kept it with me for six years, selling it off last year when the traffic got just too much for the health of both myself and the car. My only regret is that I did not take the car out across the country too much. It is the only thing one misses now that I don’t have a vehicle.

On this particular story, this paragraph caught the eye:

the new vehicles tuned for BS-III would not be as efficient on higher sulphur content as in BS-II. The sulphur content is 50 ppm in BS-IV, up to 350 ppm in BS-III and 500 ppm in BS-II.

Similarly, if the car is tuned to run on a minimum octane level of 91 (such as in BS-IV), it will have difficulty in running at 88 (such as in BS-II).

In addition, the life of the catalytic converter, which helps reduce harmful emissions, might get reduced in the long term. This means if the converter is tuned to last for 80,000 km, its shelf life would be depleted much before that.

As new cars fitted with newer forms of emission control come in, the customer has to necessarily buy purer fuel (.e.g 91 Octane). Given the prices of fuel today, that’s a steep increase in the ownership of vehicles – not just the upfront cost of the vehicle (which will increase by Rs. 10,000 – Rs. 20,000) but also the monthly expenses on fuel. There are many scenarios that come to mind

1. Sales in these 13 cities will be stagnant: These 13 cities account for 40-50% of all passenger car sales in the country. Stagnation of sales here impacts half the automobile industry. But this is of course dependent on whether the individual is really cognisant or conscious of the cost impact

2. Lesser daily usage: There may be more optimal usage of the vehicle in order to reduce wasteful fuel expenditure. This may lead to lesser traffic.

3. Second hand car prices will plummet: Naturally, in Mumbai (one of the 13 notified cities for BS-IV), a second hand car which is not compliant with these standards cannot be sold (legally!).

In all this, is there coordination with operators of public transport services? If people get off their cars, which is a good thing not just from an environment point of view but even from a logistics point of view, they will need efficient comfortable public transport that takes them to their place of work swiftly. The impact may not immediate but it will be there.

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