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India Transport Portal: India and China recently succeed in weakening the United Nation agreement to “contribution” to roll back fossil fuel emission rather than “commitment”. What do fuel saving and carbon emission issues mean for India today? How would you describe the Indian awareness to such environmental issues today? Are they just political or also tackled by corporates, NGO’s and even citizens?
S. P. Singh: What reasons forced China to so called " weaken" the UN agreement on roll back of fossil fuel emission from "contribution" to rather than "commitment", we cannot answer however, there is certain gap in the approach of developed countries and developing countries on fuel saving and carbon emission issues on the road map of its implementation because it is likely to adversely impact the industrialization process in the developing countries including India. More than this, in India such interventions in international agreements / treaties, the Indian Government and Corporates give extra ordinary priority to the profits of Indian Industry rather than focusing on key environmental issues raised by NGOs / expert organizations. The interest of common citizen, in any case, is taken for granted on these matters. It is a very sad situation.
India Transport Portal: It has been shown that the rolling resistance issue is, among other, a critical element regarding the development of a sustainable Indian transport sector. Growing population, fleet and freight numbers, fuel consumption: it seems that, especially for a country like India, fuel savings and carbon emission have to be strongly regulated. What is the future of initiatives such as car star rating and rolling resistance management?
S. P. Singh: With regard to fixing threshold limit for rolling resistance of tyres used in India in the larger interest of Indian road transport sector and the economy with reference to fuel savings and carbon emissions, we are strongly committed to such initiatives and have been taking up this matter with Government of India because Indian road transport needs fuel saving, safe and carbon emission restricting tyres for TBR and PCR. This is the reason that we have been advocating for last three decades to bring in radialisation in tyres in India despite earlier resistance from domestic tyre manufacturers.
India Transport Portal: Today, developed economies, such as those in the European Union are reporting specific parameters of the tyre performances linked to rolling resistance (fuel consumption with labels on all tyres sold). What could India learn of this kind of initiative?
S. P. Singh: It is nice that developing economies and even several countries in Asia are working on implementing specific values of tyre performance linked to fixing rolling resistance of tyres. Nevertheless, we have always advocated at all the forums that what initiatives on this front India has to take, we do not need any foreign precedence. Why can't Indian Tyre Industry, automobile manufacturers and Indian Government could lead from the front to fix labeling of tyres sold in India on the rolling resistance parameters?
India Transport Portal: What do you think of the Indian initiative (DIPP and BIS) attempting to control rolling resistance? In countries like India, where regulation enforcements are just becoming robust would you rather recommend mandatory thresholds that are more easy to set up and monitor?
S. P. Singh: The Indian initiative by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India to ask the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Ministry of Consumer Affairs to look into the entire issue of rolling resistance in Indian context for the benefit of fuel saving and CO2 emission. The Transport Engineering Division – 7 (TED-7) of BIS has already held its meeting on 26th September 2013 and a expert panel has already been constituted with a specific terms of reference to arrive at values for threshold limits for tyres sold in India. The IFTRT is member of TED-7 as well as expert panel constituted for this purpose. The first meeting of this panel took place on 9th Dec'13 and had wide deliberations to set the ball rolling and findings of this panel should be available to the Government by May / June 2014. Let us hope for the best.
India Transport Portal: When you take into accounts the evolution of the tyre market (rise of radialisation, Chinese competition, overloaded transportation etc.), what could be the consequences of the rolling resistance regulation on the Indian tyre market (production capacities, tubeless adoption etc.)?
S. P. Singh: Although, radialisation in TBR in India has rather been slow due to various reasons including resistance from a section of domestic tyre manufacturers and lack of awareness among fragmented mass of commercial vehicle owners in India, which is now 20%-25% only as against 75% usage of bias ply nylon fabric truck/ bus tyres. On the other hand, the radialisation in the PCR segment is virtually 99% as all the cars / SUVs manufactured in India come fitted with radial tyres only. However, of the late huge expansion in TBR capacity by the existing domestic tyre producers and very soon global tyre majors- Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental – are going to start production of TBR in India, this is expected to expedite the radialisation in India at a very fast pace. The OEMs for commercial vehicles too will not be having any reason or excuse about the regular availability of high quality radial and will fit truck / bus radial in all categories of vehicles ranging 5 ton – 49 ton gross weight capacity range. As regarding your concerns on evolution of Indian Tyre Market in relation to Chinese Competition, overloaded truck transportation, and rise of overall radialisation along with adoptation of tubeless tyres, it needs a much longer and detailed response from us, but briefly speaking it is the fittest who will survive among the domestic or overseas players in Indian Market and we are positive about it.
India Transport Portal: A lot of tyre manufacturer claim they are producing green tyres. What an ecofriendly – or green tyre should like? If rolling resistance is a key element of a green tyre, how are Indian manufacturers competing with Chinese and foreign counterparts such as Michelin or Bridgestone that are not competing on a price basis?
S. P. Singh: In India, the pricing of TBR in India by domestic tyre manufacturers is unfairly high as is the case of other categories of bias ply of tyres due to oligopolistic structure of Indian Tyre Industry. The consumers are suffering from strangulation of market by this handful of domestic tyre majors. At present, whether green or ordinary radials produced and sold by Indian manufacturers can not be compared with imported foreign counter parts such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli, Continental or Chinese brands because there is huge variation in the taxes / duties on the domestic and foreign tyres and hence the comparison would be unfair. May be in next year and two, the Indian market will have new global tyre manufacturers producing in India and hence the rolling resistance being a key to green tyre would become a major criteria of customer preference and comparison.
S.P. Singh is Sr. Fellow & Coordinator, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT). He is Member – TED-7 (BIS) on Automotive tyre, tube, rim and valves. He is the Convenor of the All India Tyre Dealer’s Federation and has an extended knowledge on tyres issues.
“We have been advocating for last three decades to bring in radialisation in tyres in India despite resistance from domestic manufacturers” S. P. Singh, Senior Fellow & Coordinator – IFTRT, and Convenor – AITDF is a post from: India Transport Portal