The Tata Engineering & Locomotive Company, whose small car Indica has become the first car to pose a serious challenge to the Maruti, has been fast to respond to the Supreme Court's order on compliance with the Euro I and II emission norms.
On 21 July Telco announced that it has indigenously developed Euro II-compliant engine technology for the complete range of its vehicles. The Indica will be Euro II-compliant before the end of 1999. All vehicles made by Telco will be Euro II-compliant by April 2000, including commercial vehicles. The company, which is also India's leading truck maker, has developed the technology after two years of intensive research and development at its engineering research centres in Pune and Jamshedpur.
Setting the direction for the company, chairman, Ratan Tata said in a recent communication to shareholders, "Great investments have been made on Telco's vehicles to ensure that emission levels meet or better mandated norms. In fact, the company has consciously led the domestic industry in complying with international emission standards and, in this context, Telco fully supports and endorses the recent directives of the Supreme Court on the imposition of low-emission standards for all vehicles."
In 1993, the Tata group formed Tata Cummins, a joint venture with Cummins, global leader in diesel engine technology for commercial vehicles. The joint venture was designed to ensure state-of-the-art engine and emission control technology for India.
Sujit Gupta, resident director, Tata Industries, says, "We launched the Indica in December 1998, designed to meet Euro I norms 16 months prior to implementation of the then schedule for India 2000 norms. As the next step, Tata Cummins was the first to launch Euro I-compliant medium and heavy commercial vehicles in January 1999, when this was required by April 2000. Telco has a highly focussed, proactive programme in place to ensure that all its vehicles are Euro II-compliant, environment friendly, within the shortest possible lead time."
The company's engineering research centres have been developing and testing advanced technologies as an ongoing process. According to R.B. Khadilkar, vice president, ERC, the routes followed by Telco to reach Euro II-compliance with the existing quality of fuel - at 0.25 per cent sulphur in diesel - include:
For diesel vehicles:
- high pressure fuel injection pumps
- turbo chargers with intercoolers
- exhaust recirculation
- catalytic convertors
For petrol vehicles:
- multi-point fuel injection engines
- closed loop air fuel ratio control
- advanced three-way catalytic convertors
- exhaust air recirculation
"An important aspect of Telco's technology is that it meets emission norms with diesel that contains 0.25 per cent sulphur - the current fuel supply in the national capital region, which has turned the ignition key on stricter auto pollution control," says Mr Khadilkar.
The issue now is cleaner fuel. As emission norms advance, it is critical that technology development is matched by an improvement in fuel quality. Cleaner diesel, with 0.05 per cent sulphur, and petrol with a reduction in benzene, lead and sulphur content, are critical to improve ambient air quality, Mr Khadilkar points out.
Current petrol supplies in India have 3 to 5 per cent benzene, when the international norm is just one per cent. Sulphur content in petrol, currently up to 0.2 per cent, needs to be reduced to 0.05 per cent to meet tighter emission norms. Cleaner fuels can reduce emissions by up to 25 per cent in older generation, in-use vehicles, which constitute 90 per cent of the country's vehicle population. Combined with the benefit of vehicles designed to meet Euro II norms, clean fuel and regular maintenance can actually reduce pollution by up to 70 per cent.