In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, Indian manufacturers of passenger vehicles, including cars, vans, and utility vehicles, fell short of the corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) target set by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH). The achieved CAFÉ, a measure of a vehicle’s carbon emissions, stood at 116.78 gm per km, missing the MoRTH’s target of 113 gm per km. This marks the first instance of India failing to meet its fuel efficiency target since the initiative’s inception five years ago.
Ramifications for Climate Goals
The inability to meet the fuel efficiency target could have significant repercussions for India’s ambitious climate goals. The country aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The failure to achieve the set target raises concerns about the effectiveness of current strategies in meeting these crucial environmental objectives.
Industry Response and Government’s Stance
According to sources familiar with the matter, the industry is still in the process of addressing the shortfall. A government official stated, “It’s still a work-in-progress, and we have yet to take a final call. There will be a lot of stakeholder consultations cutting across various ministries.” The industry has managed to improve the CAFÉ score from 130 gm/km to the current 115-116 gm/km, showcasing progress. However, careful examination is underway to understand the reasons behind the shortfall.
Delay in Public Disclosure
The public disclosure of last year’s CAFÉ scores faced delays of more than 2-3 months. Due to a lag in automakers filing individual scores in the specified format. Automakers recently submitted their CAFÉ scores in the desired format to the government’s testing agency. The International Centre of Automotive Technology (ICAT), which subsequently forwarded the data to the MoRTH.
European Standards Highlight the Need for Innovation
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment. Emphasized the stricter fuel economy standards in Europe, set at 95 gm CO2 per km. She noted that these more stringent standards have facilitated a faster transition to electrified powertrains, despite larger and heavier engines. Roychowdhury stressed the importance of innovation in India’s automotive industry to meet and exceed stringent benchmarks. Especially considering the country’s growing motorization level and the trend towards larger engines. The shortfall in the CAFÉ score is viewed as a potential setback for India’s overall reduction in carbon emissions.