A Sustainable Shift

Industries in their true essence are the systems driven by technical excellence and customer satisfaction. These two variables are the vital ingredients for any organisation to thrive in this competitive domain. Unfortunately, not all the time these dimensions prove to be absolutely fruitful. Contingencies do strike! The Automotive sector is no exception to that.

One such history-defining challenge in the form emission norms had entered into the market back in 90s and its latest version has caused automotive industry to disrupt. Constantly rising air pollution made lawmakers to establish few amendments for restoring the nature’s balance. These amendments or regulations impose constraints in front of the firms making them to upgrade and update their tools.

To survive and succeed, automakers need to revise policies and strategies on different fronts including technology, infrastructure, recapitalization and marketing. This difficult balancing act where they have to enhance their expertise on the account of billions of dollars to be invested, and minimising the pass-on effect to customers, has sparked vigorous discussions in recent times.

An industry which has evolved astonishingly with passing time will evidently respond to this universal call towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Euro Standards, the first and foremost emission regulation ever formulated in the wake of astronomically growing pollution across the globe, were initiated in 1991. On its basis, California Air Resource Board (CARB), a primary institute which governs all emission related rules in US was made. CARB which works in tandem with Environmental Protection Agency (EPAs) is known for its stringent regulations which are adopted by most states in the country.

Ultimately, the issue which remains is how are the current automotive companies going to amend themselves to match these norms and appeal customers without tightening their budget at the same time? Thus, they are analysing keyways to adopting these strict emission norms and not losing their beloved customers as well.

  1. Technological Innovations

In the history of automobile, many revolutionary changes have been made. Be it the discovery of Spark Ignition or Compression Ignition engines, or the development of Electronic Traction Control system which employed a smooth integration of machine intelligence into mechanical power.

In this need of the hour, technical perfection has to stand up once again if automotive industries have to retain their title of change-makers. Thanks to many bright engineering minds, such ideas are kept surfacing which will help to reduce emissions from automobiles and simultaneously enhance fuel efficiency too. Higher mileage eventually helps to achieve lesser vehicular emissions.

Mechanisms like Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), Three Way Catalytic converter (TWC), Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), Variable Valve Train (VVT), Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), Turbochargers, Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), On-Board Diagnostics with oxygen sensors and transmission-systems-provided-with-many gears can help to trap and reduce Nitrous oxides (NOx), Hydrocarbons(HC), carbon monoxide(CO) and particulate matter (PM). Additionally they have proved their prowess in enhancing mileage, realizing the dream of highly fuel efficient futuristic vehicles with zero or least emissions.

One more important aspect of these add-on systems is that they operate with a prerequisite condition of high graded fuel. Fuel quality of present days can hinder the flawless working of above mentioned equipment. Fuel with any amount of sulphur greater than 10 parts-per-million is considered ill-suited for the current infrastructure. Therefore, fuel refineries have to upgrade their machinery to achieve the desired quality. Good news is that Oil Marketing Companies have already gear up the process to upgrade their refinery infrastructure.

  1. Down-weighting is the key!

Many organisations employ a method where they opt for unconventional size accompanied with lightweight structure to fit in the regulations. For instance, instead of hunk sized SUVs, companies nowadays launch many SUVs having smaller sizes and much lighter in weight. This can give them advantage in two ways. Firstly, with less intrinsic load to propel, vehicles achieve better mileage which is the most appealing factor for many of the buyers. Second thing is, production costs associated with shrunk size vehicles are proportionally smaller, further shrinking the actual cost a consumer has to bear.

Needless to say, reduction in size and weight together is merely a dream without materials having desired properties. Fortunately modern material science has blessed us with materials like Carbon fiber, Aluminium Alloy, Magnesium Alloy, Hybrid material and Polymer Composites which not only flaunt their lightweight characteristics but also their durability and wear resistance.

  1. Green fuel powered vehicles

Automobile fraternity is facing a paramount shift in terms of propelling power as newer, cleaner and cheaper alternatives are being introduced. From its introduction of SI and CI engines in late 19th century, they are a popular choice among mass and technocrats. But their environmental demerits are slowly pushing them towards extinction. Solar vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and gas powered vehicles can be the solutions for growing environmental pollution and depleting crude oil sources. As a wise man has said, “change is the only permanent thing in this world”, automakers have no choice than embracing these changes despite of their higher initial cost. However, the advantages it offers are countless and unquestionable.

  1. Unorthodox Designs

Until now people have used automobiles for connectivity, comfort and the means of carrying goods. Time has come to rethink over our expectations from them since we are employing vehicle designs which serve purposes commonly. An example where a vehicle widely used for intra-city connectivity is also equipped with larger trunk spaces which could have been avoided helping in reduction of overall weight and size. Dedicated category of vehicles for dedicated purposes employing unique shapes seems a distant dream for now but certainly not impossible.

  1. Spread the word!

Customers tend to have a problem in paying extra cash unless they know the long-term benefits and payback time of these accessories. A study shows that a EURO VI norm car which costs about $1000 more than its EURO V counterparts retrieves the investment within 2-3 years for enhanced fuel efficiency.

Protecting our mother Earth from harmful effects of pollution is a responsibility of every single individual to assure a healthier and greener environment to our future generations. Despite of initial investments which these amendments demand, they are essential for the very existence of this planet. An intensive marketing strategy about making people aware of the benefits received at the core can instil an appreciation of value over cost. This can make the job easier for manufacturers.

  1. Credit System: A tool for rectification

Credit system is a depository system where if an automaker exceeds standards in early years, it can bank credits to use in future years with stringer standards. An interesting statistics revealed that last year, many automobile giants like Mercedes Benz, Honda could not mitigate the emissions to the level drafted by regulatory agencies. However, thanks to their previous years’ credit points, they could manage to surpass the benchmark.

Some experts even call this credit score mechanism a daunting loophole which is compromising the serious efforts of environmental protection. However, while tightening the grip on vehicle pollutants, stricter emission standards like EURO VI, CARB and BS VI had to provide a breathing space for organisations. Entrepreneurs can exploit this situation to some extent in case they fall marginally short of meeting the norms.

  1. Lower profits with higher number of customers

A prime hurdle while employing these technical modifications is that their cost is undoubtedly reflected in increased vehicle prices. This can discourage people from purchasing new automobiles resulting overall slowdown of the industry. After all, people pay vehicle producers for horsepower and not for environmental protection.

That being said, we should also face the reality check where bearing the whole cost isn’t possible for any organisation. So, passing it on to the customers is the only way manufacturers have. But a chunk of those costs can be swallowed by lowering the profit margins. This strategy can make businesses survive without losing their customers.

Undoubtedly, emission regulations are the need of the hour with millions of vehicles rolling out in the market worsening the pollution issue globally. Conforming to them is of prime importance when considering the noble virtues of the efforts making this planet a better place to live. But succeeding and surviving in this transiently modifying world of connectivity, automobile industry has to adopt some changes and strategies. An industry with a history of marvellous inventions and a potential to shape the future will surely be on the driving seat while experiencing this sustainable awakening.

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