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Green drive: Star ratings for cars soon

Vehicles in India will soon come with star ratings, signifying how environment-friendly they are. So you might want to rethink your decision to go in for a fuel-guzzling SUV, branded a "criminal on the road" by environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Chetan Chauhan reports. New fuel efficiency norms

autos Updated: Nov 29, 2010 01:05 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Vehicles in India will soon come with star ratings, signifying how environment-friendly they are. So you might want to rethink your decision to go in for a fuel-guzzling SUV, branded a "criminal on the road" by environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

The star ratings are part of the government's move to stipulate strict fuel efficiency norms for cars, especially sports utility vehicles. The automobile firms are opposing it.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), mandated by the prime minister's office to stipulate the norms under the Energy Conservation Act, wants automobile manufacturers to opt for fuel efficiency norms either on the basis of brand or weight.

The first option would mean separate star ratings for say, the Maruti Alto and the Maruti Wagon R.

The second rating would be on the basis of both weight and engine capacity, which means both the Alto and the Wagon R would have the same rating.

"In a stipulated time span, all vehicles would have to follow star ratings or else they will not be allowed to sell," said a BEE official, adding, "The norms will have some impact on high fuel-guzzling SUVs."

The automobile companies argue that both BEE options could result in an increase in vehicle costs because of technology upgradation.

The transport ministry, on its part, has proposed a third regime — Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) — where the fuel economy of an entire fleet of a company is measured. This would mean that a company can sell a polluting vehicle if it has a highly fuel-efficient vehicle in its basket.

Ajay Mathur, director general of BEE, told HT discussions on the new fuel efficiency norms were in the final stages.

"We are expected to finalise the fuel efficiency norms once I return from the Cancun climate summit (starting Monday)," he said.