The Supreme Court in India has ruled that no one may manufacture, buy or sell any Bharat Stage III approved vehicles effective April 1, 2017. The Bharat Stage III (or BS III) emissions standards were first implemented in 2010, but now that the country has worked to create stricter rules regarding the auto industry, the decision to ban the older standards has resulted in the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The ruling affects the Indian auto industry’s current inventory of 824,275 vehicles that meet the Bharat Stage III standards, according to the numbers given to the court by automakers earlier this month. This count is made up of 96,724 commercial vehicles, 671,308 two-wheeled vehicles like mopeds, 40,048 three-wheeled vehicles, and 16,198 standard passenger cars and trucks.

What are Bharat Stage emissions?

In India, Bharat Stage emissions were introduced to enforce cleaner emissions from vehicles, such as gasoline or radiation. India has a population of 1.3 billion people, where there are about eight vehicles per 1,000 people. This equates to 10.4 million vehicles on the roads in the country. With that many drivers, and many them being in very busy cities and towns, there is no doubt that clean air should be a priority.

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The Bharat Stage emissions standards were first introduced in 2000, and are based on the European emissions regulations. Rather than enacting a far-reaching standard, and knowing if they did it would result in chaos, the country decided to start small and work its way up to tougher, stricter regulations.

The first stage, BS I, was introduced nationwide in 2000. After the initial stage, BS II came to fruition from 2001-2005, followed by BS III from 2005-2010. Every stage since BS II has been implemented in smaller stages, usually starting with a small group of cities and working its way up to being a nationwide standard.

The Indian government also knew that it was important to do away with older standards as the new stage rolled out, which is what brought to the Supreme Court decision regarding BS III. The decision sates, ” ‘Even though the numbers of unsold stock of BS III (vehicles) is small, keeping in view of public health concerns, commercial interests are not important.’

What does this mean for the surplus of BS III-approved vehicles?

During the proceedings, government officials who work closely with the auto industry asked the court to go easy on the ruling because of the high number of vehicles still in automobile companies’ inventories, but their efforts failed. Now that the ruling has been announced, companies have two choices. They can work to bring all of the existing vehicles up to the BS IV standard or they can sell them by the March 31 deadline. Many believe the companies are more likely going to export the vehicles at discounted prices in hopes of at least breaking even. This is a very viable option because there was nothing in the ruling that would bar them from doing such a thing.

India Supreme Court rules to revoke Bharat Stage III emissions standards

India is one of the highest populated countries in the world, second only to China – and not by much. The Indian government as a whole has shown that clean air is a high priority, and they will not be swayed to compromise the health of the population.

Now that Bharat Stage III is gone, BS IV, which calls for higher fuel quality, remains to be the go-to standard for the auto industry. As the Bharat Stage emissions continue to be rolled out, the government has chosen to skip BS V and will instead implement BS VI and BS VII beginning in 2020, which will catch them up to Europe’s Euro VI cycle and put India ahead of its 2024 deadline.

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