India High Court Lifts Diesel Ban in Capital
Diesels Still Subject to 1 Percent Levy
Volkswagen may have brought the spotlight on diesel emissions starting last September, but regulators and environmental activists around the world have had their eye on diesels for far longer, especially in developing economies with less-stringent pollution regulations. Diesel vehicles were targeted in India’s capital of New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities on earth, for having an adverse effect on air quality. Sales of “large” diesels (2.0L and larger) were temporarily banned from sale and registration in the capital district in an effort to curb pollution. Automakers protested the ban, claiming it impacted sales of its new models. Diesels account for more than 40 percent of new vehicle sales in India.
As a compromise, large diesels registered in New Delhi will be subject to a 1 percent levy. Indian automaker Mahindra expressed relief at the compromise, while Mercedes-Benz protested and rejected the premise that its diesel vehicles were contributing to the capital’s pollution problem. India has adopted the equivalent of Euro 6 emissions standards for diesels for 2020 models, skipping over a proposed interim standard that would have matched Euro 5 standards.
Mercedes-Benz says the biggest enabler of improved diesel emissions would be a cleaner diesel fuel standard. New Delhi and 12 other cities in India currently sell 50 parts per million (ppm) low-sulfur diesel fuel. Other areas of the country sell 350 ppm diesel. The current standard in the U.S. for ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) is 15 ppm. The current EU standard is 10 ppm. Analysts said the diesel ban and levy are largely symbolic, as the main culprits in the city’s air pollution are not newer vehicles but older vehicles and an inadequate public transportation system.