In April 2020, the Bharat Stage (BS) VI standards for light duty vehicles were introduced and all new vehicles manufactured since that date have to comply with BS-VI. India skipped the introduction of Stage V (equivalent to Euro 5 standards) and leapt straight to Bharat Stage VI, intending to address air quality problems within cities. Pollution has been an ongoing issue for India, and there was a need to tighten the emission standards. Since the launch of the new standards, India has switched to using the cleanest fuels available - gasoline and diesel are required to have 10 ppm sulphur concentration, as part of Stage VI.
What are the implications of Bharat Stage VI?
The switchover to the Bharat Stage VI compliant fuels began before the April 2020 deadline, and now oil refineries and petrol pumps across India are supplying fuels with 10 ppm sulphur concentration. Many Indian automakers were producing BS-VI compliant vehicles by January 2020, although some car manufacturers and dealers have been left with old stocks of vehicles manufactured to BS-IV standards, a situation made worse by the lockdowns put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bharat Stage VI standards for light duty vehicles have the same emissions limits as those for Euro 6, and real driving emissions (RDE) requirements are also included, but they will not apply immediately. The measurement of RDE at type approval using PEMS (portable emissions measurement system) is required initially for data collection only. The emissions limits for real driving, which are yet to be published, will be in place from April 2023.
The BS-VI standards for light duty vehicles do not adopt the WLTP (World harmonised Light-duty vehicles Test Procedures) test cycles that are used within the EU, and instead, the testing for the assessment of emissions is carried out with the Indian Drive Cycle, as for the BS-IV emissions standards. The real driving emissions test has the same structure as the test required for EU certification, with some differences in the test conditions.
Heavy-Duty Vehicles and BS-VI
The BS-VI standards also apply for all heavy-duty vehicles manufactured from April 2020 onwards and the emissions limits are the same as for Euro VI. For heavy-duty vehicles, testing procedures are the same as for the EU standards. On-road testing, to demonstrate in-service conformity (ISC), is also in place and will begin in April 2023. The conformity factors that determine emissions limits are not yet published for the ISC test.
Beyond BS-VI - the future of emissions standards in India
Bharat Stage VI standards were also introduced for motorcycles in April 2020, emissions limits for two-wheel vehicles are equivalent to Euro 5 limits, which are also currently applied in the EU. India has made a very significant step towards reducing emissions with the introduction of Bharat Stage VI, and the successful implementation of this switchover highlights the opportunity to potentially further reduce emissions in future years.
To keep up to date on the latest developments in emissions standards for India, including for agricultural and construction vehicles, subscribe to EMLEG, Ricardo’s online database of emissions legislation. EMLEG provides online summaries of emissions regulations for over 50 countries including India, the EU, US, China, Brazil and Japan. The content in EMLEG details the limits for exhaust and evaporative emissions and all the other main requirements for certification and in-use testing. It covers several market sectors, including passenger cars, heavy-duty vehicles, non-road applications, marine, motorcycles, and more. CO2 emissions and fuel consumption standards are included, as well as fuel specifications.
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