Vinod Dasari, the President of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and Managing Director of Ashok Leyland, tells Chanchal Pal Chauhan that Indian automakers have been the fastest in adopting cleaner technologies
A more restrained and responsible industry could have avoided the huge BS-III inventory after the ban.
Dasari: Indian automakers have been making BS-IV vehicles since 2010 but could sell them only in cities where BS-IV fuel was available. They have made millions of BS-IV vehicles since 2010 and were told to switch over the manufacturing from April 1, 2017. This has been the practice in all past switchovers. However, just two days before that date, the court suddenly said that whatever inventory is left cannot be sold, neither by the manufacturer nor by the dealer. The industry went by the directives issued by the government and then the Supreme Court.
How have you and the auto industry dealt with BS-III stocks? What are the possible options now?
Dasari: For Ashok Leyland, our inventory will be exported to other markets where BS-III norms apply and where we have significant presence. For other vehicles, we, like the industry, will be able to easily upgrade at a minimal cost.
The deadline was known for two-three years. How did the industry land itself in such a situation?
Dasari: The industry has been selling BS-IV vehicles since 2010. However, pan-India, BS-IV norms were delayed due to unavailability of BS-IV fuel across the country. The point is that the industry did not move to BS-IV vehicles as BS-IV fuel was not available and not because it was not ready.
How do you see the perception that it is a polluting industry?
Dasari: The Indian auto industry is the fastest in the world to adopt emission and safety regulations. We will move from BS-IV to BS-VI in three years; Europe and America took 10 to 12 years. ~