Data on fuel economy of cars kept secret by makers: CSE

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New Delhi, June 03 (UNI) The certified fuel economy data of each make and model of cars remain a secret and this information cannot be obtained even under the all powerful RTI, the Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) said today while highlighting the ''increased oil guzzling'' by big cars.

The CSE's analysis of the emissions data available from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) shows heat trapping CO2 emissions from newer cars had been increasing over the years.

The influential NGO called for developing and enforcing mandatory fuel economy standards and demanded that carmakers declare fuel economy of their vehicles.

According to ARAI data, 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.

Diesel car models with engine size less than 1,600 cc of 1996-2000 vintage emit 129 gm/km of CO2 but comparable post-2005 model emits 149 gm/km. Fuel economy drops from 20 km/litre to 18 km/litre.

While SUV models with engine size less than 3,000 cc of 1996-2000 vintage emits 189 gm/km, the post-2000 vintage and post-2005 models emits 229 gm/km and 256 gm/km respectively.

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.

The study shows that total CO2 emissions load from vehicles was 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 five years, between 2002 and 2007, the CO2 emissions load from cars has increased by 73 per cent and from two-wheelers by 61 per cent. This has serious implications for energy impacts.

Public transport buses contribute much less of CO2 load - 20 per cent. Moreover, 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 eight 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,'' she said.

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 said its 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, '' it said.

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 CSE said.

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