Car makers are likely to cease production of some of India’s best-known models as safety and BS-VI emission norms kick in over the next two years as the country seeks to lower casualties and bring down emission levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter by more than half.
The Nano and E20 are expected to cease production by April 2019. They will include Maruti Suzuki’s Omni, the best-selling van that India’s biggest carmaker has been selling since 1984, and the Gypsy, which for decades was the SUV of choice for India’s military and the security services.
Also up for the chop is likely to be the Tata Nano, once celebrated as the cheapest car in the world, said people with knowledge of the matter. Joining them probably are the Mahindra E2O, India's only electric small car, and the Fiat Punto, they said.
Production of the Hyundai Eon and the Honda Brio, the smallest cars from those companies, has already stopped, they added. Except for the Omni and the Hyundai Eon, to a certain extent, sales have largely dwindled for most of the other models.
The Nano and E20 are expected to cease production by April 2019, while the Omni and the Punto won’t get BS VI engines and hence will see their end by April 2020, which is when the emission norms take effect. The Nissan Terrano, Fiat Linea and Volkswagen Ameo are other notable models that are likely to halt production unless they are reborn with new engines and extensive structural changes, experts said.
The Indian car market is seeking to rapidly align itself with global standards on safety and emission fronts.
Stringent new crash norms will be put in place by April 2019. As part of improved frontal and side impact protection, car makers will have to offer airbags and antilock braking systems as standard equipment.
India is among the most polluted countries in the world, being home to 11 of the 12 cities that are worst off in this respect. India also had the most road deaths in 2017 at 146,000 .The changes of April 2020 will be preceded by the Automotive Industry Standard (AIS) 140 standard applicable to commercial taxis. This mandates a tracking device and one or more emergency buttons in all existing or new public service vehicles. Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava recently confirmed the Omni’s end.
Tata Motors said any decision about production halts would be announced by the company. “The production planning of a car is a conscious management of demand, system inventory and planned efficiencies,” a spokesperson said in an email to ET. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) also declined to say which models would cease output. “The company fully recognizes the importance of the BS VI legislation being put in place to ensure cleaner emissions and it is clear that this will demand technical enhancement to FCA power trains , which as one would expect, the company has already been working on for some time,” said FCA India president and managing director Kevin Flynn. “At the moment, we have no further comment to offer on specific models that are part of our existing range of vehicles.”
M&M didn’t confirm ending the E2O but said as new regulations on safety and emission come into effect, the company will be rationalizing its portfolio and some models will be phased out. “However, we cannot give details on any specific model.