CSE's analysis of Automotive Research Association of India's CO2 emissions data points to increased oil guzzling from newer personal cars at a time when oil prices are skyrocketing

CSE's analysis of Automotive Research Association of India's CO2 emissions data points to increased oil guzzling from newer personal cars at a time when oil prices are skyrocketing June 02, 2008

  • Centre for Science and Environment’s analysis of the emissions data available from the Automotive Research Association of India shows heat trapping CO2 emissions from newer cars are increasing over the years.
  • This is ominous as CO2 emissions are directly linked with fuel economy of vehicles. This point towards increased oil guzzling at a time when the country is reeling under severe economic strains from skyrocketing oil prices.
  • The study also shows the CO2 emissions from vehicles are increasing in Delhi. Personal vehicles – cars and two-wheelers, contribute maximum.
  • As this raises concern regarding increased oil consumption, the certified fuel economy data in km/litre of each make and model of cars remain a secret. CSE found this information cannot be obtained even under the all powerful RTI.
  • CSE calls for urgent multi-pronged strategy to control oil guzzling and CO2 emissions -- improve public transport, and implement fuel economy standards.

New Delhi, June 2, 2008 : Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has expressed deep shock on learning that when the oil price hike has put Indian economy at risk, heat trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that directly depend on the amount of fuel burnt, are on the rise from newer vintages of cars on Indian roads. This hints at increased oil guzzling.

This has emerged from CSE’s analysis of the CO2 emissions tested by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) from vehicles produced in different time period – 1991-96, 1996-2000, post 2000 and post 2005. Further estimates carried out to assess the trend in total CO2 load from vehicles in Delhi exposed significant increase in the total CO2 emissions load from vehicles. This has been incited by unbridled growth in cars and two-wheelers, and increase in travel distances. Energy impact of this trend can be severe.

What the new analysis tells us

  • The ARAI data shows higher CO2 emissions from newer cars:

o Post-2000 petrol cars, with engine size more than 1,400 cc, emits 143 gm/km of CO2. But post -2005 models of same engine size emit 173 gm/km. Fuel economy drops from 16 km/litre to 13 km per litre. o Diesel car models with engine size less than 1,600 cc of 1996-2000 vintage emit 129 gm/km but comparable post-2005 model emits 149 gm/km. Fuel economy drops from 20 km/litre to 18 km/litre. o While SUV models with engine size less than 3,000 cc of 1996-2000 vintage emits 189 gm/km, the post-2000 vintage emits 229 gm/km and post-2005 models emit 256 gm/km. Today one SUV emits equal to two small petrol cars. Estimated fuel economy drops are dramatic – from 14 km/litre in 1996-2000 models to 10 km/litre in post 2005 models.

  • Further estimates show total CO2 emissions load from vehicles is increasing in cities like Delhi. Cars and two-wheelers contribute maximum to the total CO2 emission load from vehicles in Delhi -- as much as 60 per cent. Only in 5 years, between 2002 and 2007, the CO2 emissions load from cars has increased by 73% and from two wheelers by 61%. This has serious implications for energy impacts.
  • Public transport buses contribute much less of CO2 load– 20%. But it is important to note buses carry several times more people and consume significantly less fuel per passenger. CSE’s estimate for Delhi’s BRT corridor shows that per capita energy consumption can be 8 times higher in cars than buses.

Older cars can become more fuel-inefficient and emit more CO2 due to poor maintenance and deterioration. But newer cars, even those produced after 2000 and 2005, showing higher levels of CO2 emissions than the older vintages is unexpected and disturbing”, says Anumita Roychowdhury, in charge of CSE’s Right to Clean Air Campaign. Are car companies increasing weight, power, and performance of cars at the cost of fuel economy? But this evades legal scrutiny as India has not enforced fuel economy standards for vehicles yet.

At the same time explosive increase in personal vehicle numbers in the absence of adequate public transport system, are fuelling the CO2 emissions in Delhi. This mirrors the national threat of growing carbon and energy imprint of urban transport.

Disturbed by the CO2 trends, CSE made efforts to obtain official fuel economy data for car models that are recorded at the time of certification of new vehicles. “But we were appalled to discover that this crucial information is not available even under the Right to Information Act. At a time when the country is going bankrupt on account of crippling crude oil prices, fuel economy data of cars (in km/litre) is held as trade secret,” says Roychowdhury: “But such data are routinely published in other countries to help consumers select fuel efficient vehicles and help governments to set up fuel economy standards.”

The ARAI, which certifies vehicles for emissions and tests fuel consumption of vehicles, replied to the RTI request saying, “numerical value of fuel consumption of each model is of commercial confidence in nature and third party information”. The Union ministry of shipping, road transport and highways, which regulates testing and certification of vehicles, says “this department does not maintain the results of type approval tests”. CSE’s efforts have exposed that the government has not implemented even its own recommendations of the Auto Fuel Policy, 2003 that required “mandatory disclosures” of fuel economy data by auto companies.

This is reprehensible when the cost of fuels on account of under recovery by oil companies today amounts to about 3 per cent of the GDP. And the government, along with the public sector oil companies, are absorbing nearly 88 per cent of the cost burden. Oil bonds floated by the government do not recover even one-third of the losses, and threaten to increase off-budget liability and inflation.

The losses per litre of fuel, due to under recovery, are as high as Rs 16.33 for a litre of petrol and Rs 28.12 per litre of diesel. But the beneficiaries of this perverse subsidy are the car makers and users who are reaping the benefits at an enormous welfare cost. It is time that the car industry shoulders the responsibility and adopts mandatory fuel economy standards. The World Energy Outlook, 2007 has estimated that most of the increase in fuel consumption by 2030 in India will be driven by light-duty vehicles, mainly cars – growing at an annual average rate of 10 per cent. India’s Energy policy has estimated that with 50 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency can help to save nearly 86 million tonnes of fuel by 2030-31. This roughly indicates saving of 65 per cent of total current consumption and in terms of CO2 emissions the reduction is equal to removing 7 million of today’s four-wheelers.

CSE demands fuel economy norms and scaling up of public transport

  • Develop and enforce mandatory fuel economy standards. Carmakers must declare fuel economy of their vehicles. Once fuel economy standards are in place link tax measures with clean and fuel efficient vehicle technology.
  • Simultaneously speed up and scale up implementation of public transport systems to reduce car usage. Extensive network of mass transport – metro, BRT and buses – is needed for substantial fuel savings. Given the staggering cost of oil in the economy, these measures will be vital for our future energy security and environment.