To start with, the ‘BS’ in BS IV stands for ‘Bharat Stage’ which signifies the emission regulation standards set by Indian regulatory bodies. The ‘IV’ is a roman numeric representation for four (4). The higher the number gets, the stricter the Bharat Stage emission norms get which eventually means it becomes trickier (and costlier) for automakers to meet them.
With the mandated introduction of the BS IV emission norms that came into effect across the country from April 1, 2017. Though our beloved readers roughly know that the BS III engines causes more pollution in the atmosphere as compared to the BS IV engines. Thus, keeping this in mind all cars & bikes using BS III engines are banned from selling in India from early this-month.
If you think only the air pollution released by the vehicle is taken into consideration by the Bharat Stage norms, you’d be surprised to know the each progression, criteria defined and parameters covered to meet the newer and meant stricter emission norms. Recently implemented India’s BS IV emission norms are equivalent to the Euro V emission standards introduced by the European Union in September 2009.
In this article, we’ll cover why the BS IV norms is a big blow all of a sudden? Why it has not gone down too well with several auto manufacturers? What is it really?
Starting with why the BS IV norms became a big blow all of a sudden like demonetisation? Although the demonetisation was a surprise attack by Modi-led government, the BS IV emission norms was not a shocking announcement suddenly made by the Indian government, it was announced well-around two years ago and the deadline of implementation was also made public around the same time.
Commenting on the Supreme Court’s order on banning the sale of BS III stocks of vehicles, Vinod K Dasari, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), said that the auto industry has been ready with BS IV manufacturing since 2010. However, the sale of BS IV vehicles was not possible, nationwide, due to the non-availability of BS IV fuel across the country, forcing some categories of 4-wheeled vehicles to remain at the BS III stage till April 1, 2017. Running a BS IV vehicle with BS II fuel can cause severe problems to some vehicles. Now the auto industry is in full compliance with the emission norms set by the government that specify the date of ‘manufacturing’.
As per the government’s move, the manufacturer’s had to have launched the BS IV vehicles after April-2016 that means they had neglected the rule, further, they had enough time to tweak the existing models too to be BS IV compliant over the next one-year if not right then in 2016. But the manufacturers are so desensitize that they actually need the Supreme Court to ban the sales and registration of the BS III vehicles, and do things only in the last minute.
The manufacturers could have upgraded each model at a time starting from April-2016, and batches of them could’ve been dispatched to dealerships, instead of waiting for the very last day. Some automakers did do that. But most of them haven’t. Now some dealers are facing tough time getting the new batch of BS IV vehicles, they have to wait in long queues like the ATMs that we had to wait for the new currency notes.
Next-question, why the BS IV norms has not gone down too well with several auto manufacturers? While a few auto companies have welcomed the decision to implement BS IV, many are saying they were not given enough time to update technology and to dispose off their existing BS III stock.
The automakers will have to make investments in order to speed-up the research and development process and improve their own infrastructure. Although announced prior, most motor companies are suffering from huge losses due to the negligence; they are now looking for a possibility to convert the BS III vehicles into BS IV compliance at minimal cost or to export the inventories of BS III vehicles.
Tata Motors issued a statement saying that the “decision by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to ban sale of all BSIII vehicles from April 1, 2017 is an unexpected and unprecedented move that will have a material impact on the entire automotive industry, OEMs, dealer network and causes loss of jobs. However, the real impact of the decision on companies, their dealers and BS III stock is yet to be known!
Now we come to much-asked popular question among our readers. What actually is BS IV norm? The auto makers haven’t educated their dealers, the sales guys usually say its just an additional or one more layer on the exhaust pipe to reduce pollution. Changes from BS III to BS IV are more than just a tailpipe emissions, this includes evaporative emission, electromagnetic radiation emission, tyre gas emission, noise emission, heat emission, and light emission to name some. Furthermore, the mechanical advancements are regulated differently to different categories of vehicles like two-wheelers, petrol-powered passenger vehicles and SUVs, diesel-powered passenger vehicles and SUVs, and large commercial vehicles.
It’s not possible to cover everything in detail, however, let me express in brief about the BS IV norm at the best of my knowledge.
Evaporative Emission: The Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) is used to prevent petrol vapors from escaping into the atmosphere from the fuel tank and fuel system. The EVAP system re-circulates fuel vapours back into the tank at a highly controlled rate. For 4-wheelers, even the BS III norm specified recycling the fuel vapour, now the BS IV norm insists the same for 2-wheelers.
Electromagnetic Radiation Emission: Auto manufacturers may be generally unaware of the health implications of low frequency electromagnetic radiation. Even we motoring journals don’t even touch on the EMR (Electro-Magnetic Radiation) issue in our road tests. This radiation emitted by the engine management systems, sound equipment, alternator/magneto coil, certain sensors in the vehicle, electrically heated seats, Bluetooth communications systems, some infotainment devices connectivity such as a wireless modem for internet and even solar panels is harmful to the human body.
It is not surprising that the EMR numbers in modern cars are generally worse than for older cars. We also need to be careful about hybrid and electrically-powered cars. If low-EMR is not designed into these cars from the drawing board, these new technologies have the potential to create even higher EMRs than fuel-powered cars. And this radiation is not limited to cars, but planes, trains, trucks, coaches and buses are equally likely to create strong EMRs.
For motorcycle, the components generating the electromagnetic radiation are even closer to the rider and pillion between the legs. So the EMR effect is more intense especially in the region of private parts. Hmmm, not a good place to be irradiated.
Tyre Gas Emission: A lot of non-exhaust pollution from tyres winds up into the atmosphere that comes from the wear of tyres. In order to keep in control, the tyres pose another challenge for the automakers to certify under BS IV norms. The homologations for tyres have to be pursued by the tyre manufacturers themselves, without working with the auto manufacturers.
Noise Emission: The noise emission regulation that requires certification of vehicles overall noise levels, and not just exhausts system. This emission takes into consideration the idle noise and passes by noise as well. The major contributor to noise pollution in Indian cities, the horn noise level too is considered. However, the manufacturers can’t always achieve the noise limit by tuning just the engine, gearbox, or exhaust. This is where even the tyre makers need to put some efforts to meet the BS norms, relating RRC to (Rolling Resistance Co-efficient).
The BS IV standards also mandate lower RRC about 7.6-7.8, when the BS III value was 12.4 approx. The RRC can be tuned in different ways. Firstly and easy one, the tyre can just be manufactured harder, so that it will result in lesser grip and lower mileage to the vehicle. But the advantage would be longer tyre life. Next and the harder route, the tyre will have to be lighter, and formulated with a significant difference to the compound, which is not easy to achieve without compromising on the tyre life. Tyre engineering is the most challenging subject in the field of automobiles. It is an ocean that can’t be swam across.
Heat Emission: This is another challenge for the manufacturers to be kept in control. There are regulations for the various heat emitting things on a vehicle like the engine, exhaust and lights.
Light Emission: Firstly, let me clear that AHO (Always Headlamps-ON) has nothing to do with BS IV. The confusion surfaced from the fact that the two were implemented simultaneously. AHO is an implementation norm, while Bharat Stage is an emission norm that has regulates the minimum and maximum intensity of the lights used on a vehicle, like the headlamp (low and high beams), turn indicators, fog lamp, tail lamp, brake light and reverse lamp.
The harder the braking, the more minute particles fly – yes even the wear and tear of brakes do contribute to our air pollution. Surprisingly, the open discs emit more inhalable air pollution than drum brakes, where the wear-particles are mostly sealed in. As of now, there are no policies to control these emissions.
To wrap it up and put it simply, BS IV norm is the stricter limit of exhaust gas emission, vehicle noise emission and evaporative emission. To be specific, the BS IV aims to reduce air pollutants (oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and particulate matters (PM), lower decibel levels of idle and pass by noise, and lower release of fuel vapour into the atmosphere. Although the BS III has an upper limit for fuel vapour leak, the latest BS IV demands the EVAP canister be installed for almost nil leak. Some manufacturers have slightly de-tuned the engine, compromising with the lower-performance, it has reduced the exhaust output and noise as well at a minimal cost.
OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) too have been updated on the BS IV vehicles (known as OBD 2) compared to that on BS III vehicles (known as OBD version 1). It is a system were-in service centres and customers can read the information from ECU (Engine Control Unit) using ‘Car Diagnostic Tool’ devices. The BS norm commands a policy like what information that should be revealed to the customers through the OBD port, and subsequent versions will reveal more information about the car, like the real-time fuel efficiency, various temperatures and emission related data.
So now you know, the BS IV norm is not just an extra layer on the exhaust pipe to reduce pollution, it is about so many other kinds of emission. These mechanical advancements will eventually make owning a BS IV vehicle more expensive to own, and maintain from our end too. Now the India has already decided to skip BS V and implement BS VI emission norms in a short span of three years by 2020.
All the above parameters set-up by the Indian government makes for a much better vehicle in terms of being eco-friendly.
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Also see: Automobiles – Threatening Dangers