All cars to sport mileage labels March 2012 onwards

Come March 2012 and all new cars in India will have government certified fuel efficiency labels on them, so that buyers can know the real mileage of vehicles before they purchase one.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency is on the verge of finalizing the rules for fuel efficiency labeling according to The Times of India. Along with the labeling, the government also expects the automobile industry to increase the fuel efficiency of all cars by 20-25% before 2016.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency has roped in the Road and Transport ministry as well as the auto industry to take this initiative forward. The Bureau will finalize emission standards once discussions with the government and representatives of the auto industry are over.

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The Bureau will set rules for both labeling and setting standards (of fuel efficiency) under the Energy Conservation Act. The Road and Transport ministry, in turn, will have to implement the rules (made by the Bureau) and monitor the auto industry under the Motor Vehicle Act.

What this means

Vehicle manufacturers will have to make cars that meet specific mileage targets ascertained by the board. These mileage targets will be revised periodically in order to ensure that better engines and technologies replace older, less fuel-efficient motors.

With the implementation of strict mileage targets, the auto industry will no longer be able to sell less fuel efficient cars and will be forced to ensure the sale of modern, fuel efficient cars increases with time.

Further, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has noted that the average fuel efficiency of cars produced overall has been pulled down due to the growth in sales of bigger vehicles (read SUVs). This trend will now be checked once the mileage targets are set. Also read: Top 5 most fuel-efficient SUVs in India

In situations where the auto industry fails to conform to emission norms, the Bureau will levy penalties through a name-and-shame policy affecting the specific brand names.

The Indian auto industry will have to face the challenge of making fuel-efficient cars. This trend however has been prevalent in many car markets, globally (such as the US) where stringent mileage norms have made car makers invent newer, energy saving technologies.

This, on one hand, will improve fuel-efficiency and be environment friendly. On the other hand, it will substantially bring down the running cost of vehicles, benefiting the vehicle buyers.

Currently, car buyers are guided only by ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) mileage ratings. The ARAI testing methods however are disappointing because ARAI certified cars are run on a tread-mill like arrangement with no occupants inside, no wind resistance and with the air-conditioner switched off. Also read: Most fuel-efficient automatic cars in India under Rs 10 lakh

In March 2012, with mileage labels mandatory on cars, car buyers can hope that the fuel efficiency figures issued by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency will be a real-world figure.