Are Newer ICE Cars Cleaner For India’s Environment?

In the ongoing battle against vehicular emissions, a common question arises: are brand new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars cleaner than their older counterparts? In India, a country grappling with air quality issues, this is a crucial factor for policymakers and consumers alike.

While the logic suggests newer vehicles with improved technology emit less, the answer isn’t a simple Yes or No. Here’s a breakdown of the factors at play:

Tailpipe Emissions: A Clear Advantage for New Cars

Modern ICE cars in India must adhere to stricter Bharat Stage (BS) emission norms. BS-VI, the latest standard, significantly reduces tailpipe pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) compared to older BS-III or BS-IV vehicles.

A study by the ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) found BS-VI vehicles emitting 80% less NOx and PM than BS-IV ones. This translates to cleaner air, especially in urban areas with high traffic density.

Manufacturing Footprint: The Hidden Cost

However, the environmental impact goes beyond just tailpipe emissions. Manufacturing new cars, even those with cleaner engines, consumes significant energy and resources. A 2020 research paper from TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) suggests that a typical car’s production in India contributes roughly 15% to its lifetime CO2 emissions. This footprint adds to the overall environmental burden, especially when considering the rapid growth of India’s car market.

The Longevity Factor: Keeping Older Cars on the Road

A recent study by Kyushu University in Japan throws another curveball. It argues that maintaining well-functioning older ICE cars can be better for the environment compared to frequently replacing them with new ones, even electric vehicles. This is because the emissions from manufacturing new vehicles can outweigh the tailpipe benefits for several years.

Finding the Right Balance

So, what’s the takeaway for India? Here’s a multi-pronged approach:

  • Stricter Emission Norms: Continued tightening of BS standards will ensure new vehicles are progressively cleaner.
  • Scrapping Policy: Implementing a robust scrappage policy for older, highly polluting vehicles can significantly reduce emissions.
  • Focus on Public Transport and Electric Vehicles: Encouraging public transport usage and offering incentives for electric vehicle adoption are crucial long-term solutions.

The answer to the new vs. old ICE car question isn’t black and white. A holistic approach that considers tailpipe emissions, manufacturing footprint, and vehicle lifecycle is needed to achieve sustainable mobility in India.

Reference- ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), Kyushu University Study, Maintaining Older Cars for Efficiency, TERI Study on Two-wheeler Emissions