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AUTOMOTIVE Powertrain BS-VI: Upgrading India to global standards

Jul 31, 2019

The rules and regulations in India with regards to emission are getting stringent and with the nation-wide implementation of BS-VI it is important to understand how automobile companies can arrive at a right future hybrid-powertrain layout. The viewpoint section seeks to understand how the adoption of BS-VI is going to be a game changer for the Indian market, scope of EV, the future trends and technology and more.

India would be manufacturing vehicles at par with global technologies - Gaurav Vangaal, Country Lead India – Automotive LVP Forecast, IHS Markit

Had it been from BS-V to BS-VI, the adoption of technology would have been much smoother. However, this is an uphill task, and the skip in the entire regulation standards may pose multiple challenges for the OEM, suppliers & refineries. Having said that, all the stakeholders will be ready to meet the expected target date of April 1, and it may not be a smooth transition. The major challenge is the cost hike in diesel cars, which we are not aware that if the consumer is going to accept it or not. The most significant opportunity is that with the implementation of BS-VI norms, we will be capable of producing BS-VI/ Euro-VI vehicles with BNVSAP safety norms. Hence, India would be manufacturing vehicles at par to global technologies. It provides a huge opportunity to export cars to worldwide destinations with frugal cost structures of India.

Consumers, today, understand hybrid vehicles and do not have range anxiety with it. Meanwhile, the thought of EV has always been associated with range anxiety. Moreover, it would have been cost effective for the entire automotive value chain to invest in the latest technologies. In this transformation phase, (IC Engine to Hybrid to EV) manufacturers would have been able to gauge consumer adaptability to latest powertrain technologies and market size more precisely. The complete value chain has to invest in new technologies and it will be a drastic change. We may experience temporary volume lost in the coming years, but at the same time, the price value (revenues) may increase for the entire value chain. It (revenue increase) may help powertrain suppliers & vehicle manufacturers but may not help non-powertrain suppliers.

Assembly and manufacturing lines need significant improvements - M Sathyanandan, General Manager, Product Development – Engines, Ashok Leyland

There is no option of saying ‘No’ to BS-VI, though this is the shortest time to jump two emission slabs. Solutions tried out elsewhere, like in Europe will not directly work in Indian conditions as Indian operating conditions, environment and low temperature duty cycles are distinct and diverse. The market is gearing up for BS-VI sales starting April 1, 2020. Pan-India BS-VI fuel availability, which was envisaged as a major concern is also getting addressed by the Government. In short, industry and the Diesel-DEF infrastructure is taking great shape to launch India into the next orbit. Primary challenges would be educating the after-sales network to provide effective troubleshooting and service, ensuring the right quality of diesel and DEF that are used for catalyst performances that are strongly dictated by these fluids. In every challenge lies an opportunity. Hybrids would play an important role in filling this transitional gap as EV is heavily dependent on charging infrastructure. The key is to identify the right application and position the product so that it gets immediate acceptance. This will also help in the betterment of the CAFÉ numbers as this is also becoming strategic in branding.

More and more electronics and controls are getting added, which would call for tighter quality inspection gates at OEMs. Major de-NOx technologies, such as, LNT and SCR are available for diesel passenger cars and both have their merits and demerits. Engines are also suitably improved for thermal management and fuel consumption. Because of these requirements, assembly and manufacturing lines in the entire value chain would need significant improvements and that too in a short period. Thermal efficiency improvements are looking for every single opportunity to improve fuel consumption and better thermal management approaches that would facilitate early chemical reactions in the after-treatment, which would be the need after BS-VI Phase-1 launch. Besides this, the onus is on the OEMs to manufacture in-use emission compliant vehicles which get audited by any external test agency.

Hybrid diesel engine & clean fuel technology will help improve efficiency - Kamlesh Koul, General Manager – R&D, Elofic Industries

The Indian market is ready to adopt BS-VI standard. If you see most of the automobile manufacturing companies that are supplying globally are meeting Euro-VI standards which is equivalent to BS-VI. Challenges would be to provide cost effective solution to OEMS in India to meet BS-VI standards, specially in diesel vehicles. For diesel vehicles, we are going to use fuel with 10 ppm sulphur content as compared to 50 ppm, which means diesel fuel is going to have lower interfacial tension which poses as a key challenge in separation of small water particles that are up to 10 micron in size. Also, the size of fuel injectors are going to be reduced.

The scope for hybrid vehicles is better as compared to EV because of multiple challenges that need attention, like availability of charging stations, reduction in charging time, availability of cost-effective batteries and more. Once all these major challenges are addressed by the government and vehicle manufacturers then the adoption of electric vehicles wouldn’t be a challenge. There would be changes in the infrastructure and supplier value chain. The major change would be in diesel vehicles which requires one to add after treatment devices, such as, Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), diesel oxidation catalysts system, Selective Catalysis Reduction (SCR) and Lean NOx Trap (LNT) to meet the BS-VI standard. In future, I feel that hybrid diesel engine & clean fuel technology are going to help in improving efficiency in terms of meeting emission standards and fuel economy. But investment in future diesel technology by OEMS is going to be challenging as the government is mulling a ban on all IC engines by 2030 in order to promote electric vehicles that may demotivate OEMS to invest in such technologies.

Diesel is expected to remain a choice for the OEMs - Saurabh Dixit, FPT Powertrain Product Engineering – India, CNH Industrial (India)

It is imminent that by April 2020 BS-VI will be introduced for automotive vehicles in India. Moving from BS-IV to BS-VI itself is a big leap and then completing this journey within 3 years makes this task more challenging. Even developed countries like the US and EU have taken 8-10 years to implement equivalent emission norms.

There are multiple challenges in the path of BS-VI. For example, almost every car model will need an upgradation, which involves huge R&D investments in design, testing, and validation. BS-VI is not an add on technology over BS-IV, and it can’t be converted to BS-VI as there are fundamental differences. There will be a need for dealers & service network training pan India covering country remote locations on handling and troubleshooting exhaust ATS devices, electronics. The availability of skilled manpower to handle such vehicles is also a big question that one can’t ignore. In small towns, customers are habitual to not go to an authorised service centre for small technical and service jobs. Due to the addition of complex electronics & controls, customer will be forced to change their current practices and will need to go to an authorised representative, which may be a costly affair. Finally, as we are approaching towards tighter emission norms, it will affect the auto components suppliers as well. The tier 1 and tier 2 level suppliers require investing in their facilities to align parts with stringent quality controls required on components manufactured and machined.

For the next couple of years, hybrid vehicles will have leverage over EVs. Before the launch of EV vehicles in the Indian market, it is pre-requisite to have a developed infrastructure; especially charging stations, cost effective batteries, charging capacity to support for vehicle long run drive i.e. at least 300 km in one go without the need for recharging. In fact, there is no doubt about EV’s future in the Indian market as the government is very determined. The repeat verdict has granted at least the next 5 years to move faster in this direction. But by 2030, it will be interesting to see how much EVs penetrate the automotive segment.

As the government is committed to make BS-VI fuel (10 ppm sulphur diesel) available pan India, this will allow OEMs to adopt emission control techniques to reduce NOx, PM, CO2 etc, by adopting exhaust after system technologies, like DPF, SCR, LNT. Today, due to the right fuel unavailability, many OEMs haven’t adopted these solutions. Clean diesel will open doors for many technical solutions to treat exhaust gas, which are proven in the global market.

Diesel is expected to remain a choice for OEMs due to its inherent advantages of high performance and high torque engines. In future, to meet the upcoming challenges, diesel engines will require a complete relook to adopt innovative design solutions, low friction technologies, and minimise power losses to engine peripherals by adopting electric run fan, water pump etc. The cost vs technology, as usual, will always play a major role.

IC engines are the most efficient option right now - Srirama Narayanan V, Manager R&D – Powertrain (ATS), Daimler India Commercial Vehicles

The biggest challenges in adopting BS-VI would be the heavy cost of investment and the limited time frame to adapt BS-VI. The Indian automobile industry is heavily investing and working hard towards adopting the BS-VI standards. Leapfrogging BS-V has made the timeline shorter for the Indian automotive industry to achieve the goal as well as to meet the market demands. If approached with a positive outlook, any crisis can be an opportunity for an innovative organisation. Hybrid vehicles have a better scope than EVs with the current infrastructure available in India. But still, from an eagle’s eye point of view, the IC engines are the most efficient option we have right now.

Modifying a conventional passenger vehicle to adopt and meet the new emission standard is near impossible as the cost involved will be even higher than scrapping the whole vehicle and making a new one. Improving the engine design and adding efficient turbo chargers, cooling system, exhaust system etc., would be the efficient way of moving forward as there is a lot of potential and scope of improvement within IC engines. But in the name of pollution control, subsidising EV itself is a bigger hindrance in achieving diesel engine efficiency improvement. It is our duty to emphasise that shifting of pollution from one area to another will not serve the purpose of controlling overall pollution. Moreover, the energy conversion efficiency of diesel is better than any other technologies available right now.

Image Gallery

  • Gaurav Vangaal

    Country Lead India – Automotive LVP Forecast

    IHS Markit

  • M Sathyanandan

    General Manager, Product Development – Engines

    Ashok Leyland

  • Kamlesh Koul

    General Manager – R&D

    Elofic Industries

  • Saurabh Dixit

    FPT Powertrain Product Engineering – India

    CNH Industrial (India)

  • Srirama Narayanan V

    Manager R&D – Powertrain (ATS)s

    Daimler India Commercial Vehicles

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