Working Paper

Fuel consumption from light commercial vehicles in India, fiscal years 2019–20 and 2020–21

In April of 2020, the Indian government introduced its Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emissions standards for all new sales of automobiles, which replaced the Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) norms. While BS VI does not govern carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (but instead covers pollutants like carbon monoxide [CO], particulate matter [PM], oxides of nitrogen [NOx] and others), these new emission standards prompted manufacturers to make changes to their light commercial vehicle (LCV) models, or introduce new BS VI LCV models. This paper examines the CO2 emission implications of vehicle model changes between the last year of BS IV (fiscal year 2019–20) and the first year of BS VI (FY 2020–21). The purpose is to highlight the potential contribution to India’s climate stabilization efforts of future standards for CO2 and fuel consumption in LCVs.

Our analysis is useful in several ways to transportation, fuel (efficiency), and climate policymakers. It establishes a baseline of fleet average fuel consumption (using CO2 emissions as a proxy) that could be useful for future efforts to develop an effective CO2 emission standard. It assesses the performance of India’s LCV fleet against that of the European Union (considering the differences in curb weight and vehicle size in the two jurisdictions), revealing the potential for emissions improvement in Indian LCVs through such regulations. And it suggests the expected performance of LCV manufacturers if a star-labeling standard or India’s existing passenger car fuel consumption standards were to be adapted for LCVs.

The paper focuses on the N1 (load-carrying LCVs) category of vehicles, which consists of mini trucks and pickups. It includes a brief comparison with the performance of the M1 (passenger cars) category of vehicles, whose CO2 emission standards have proven effective in driving down test-cycle emission levels of new vehicles. This paper is a continuation of the series of working papers on the Indian LCV market, dating back to 2016.

The figure shows the CO2 emissions and curb weight of the fleet of FY 2019–20 and FY 2020–21 vehicles. The size of the circles corresponds to the size of the market share of the manufacturers. LCV sales slumped 14.8% from FY 2019–20 to FY 2020–21. Despite this, the majority of manufacturers introduced modified or new LCV models that adhere to the new BS VI emission norms. The fleet average CO2 emissions level for LCVs in India was 152.5 g/km and 149.5 g/km in FY 2019–20 and FY 2020–21, respectively.