Auto Cos Plan Col­lec­tive Ac­tion to Counter Curbs on Diesel Cars

Top ex­ecs of ma­jor firms held a meet­ing in Mum­bai on Fri­day to chart out fu­ture course

The Economic Times - - Companies -

Ke­tan Thakkar & Sharmistha Mukher­jee

Mum­bai | New Delhi: Ri­vals in the auto in­dus­try are con­sid­er­ing col­lec­tive mea­sures to deal with the ex­tended ban on large diesel ve­hi­cles in Delhi and its satel­lite cities. This was one of the top­ics of dis­cus­sion when in­dus­try CEOs got to­gether in a hud­dle in Mum­bai on Fri­day, the sec­ond in re­cent days, to chart out a path to over­come the curbs on diesel and ex­plain their case more ef­fec­tively, both in the court and out­side.

Top ex­ec­u­tives of Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Mo­tor, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra, Ford, Toy­ota, Nis­san, Isuzu and other car and util­ity ve­hi­cle mak­ers met at Mahin­dra’s plant in Mum­bai’s Kan­di­vali sub­urb, on a day when the in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion cut its forecast on pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sales for the new fis­cal year blam­ing pol­icy un­cer­tain­ties. The pre­vi­ous meet­ing was in the natio- nal cap­i­tal a cou­ple of days ago.

A joint ap­proach, in­stead of the com­pa­nies in­de­pen­dently ar­gu­ing the case in the Supreme Court, was on top of the seven to eight pro­pos­als dis­cussed, one of three peo­ple ET spoke to said. Sep­a­rate lawyers cur­rently ar­gue the case for com­pa­nies such as Mahin­dra, Maruti, Toy­ota and Mercedes-Benz in the Supreme Court, which im­posed the ban as a mea­sure to re­duce air pol­lu­tion the cap­i­tal city.

TAK­ING A HIT

“Another pro­posal was to cre­ate a small group of top ex­ec­u­tives from car­mak­ers, who will ex­plain the pros and cons of diesel as a fuel tak­ing learn­ing from their global ex­pe­ri­ence, to the lawyers who in turn will be able to present the case more ef­fec­tively, when the court re­con­venes to hear the case," said the per­son re­quest­ing anonymity.

Since the di­rec­tive of the Supreme Court is to­wards the gov­ern­ment, there was also a thought that some em­i­nent CEOs in­di­vid­u­ally meet the gov­ern­ment and ex­plain the en­tire case. The Supreme Court is ex­pected to hear auto in­dus­try's ar­gu­ments on April 30. The court had said on March 31 that it would hold a spe­cial hear­ing on a Satur­day to de­cide whether the ban on reg­is­tra­tion of diesel ve­hi­cles with two-litre and larger en­gines in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion be lifted and whether an en­vi­ron­ment com­pen­sa­tion charge be levied.

In what could be a pos­si­ble im­pact of the ban on diesel ve­hi­cles in the NCR on buyer sen­ti­ment, sale of diesel ve­hi­cles across the coun­try has taken a hit since the end of 2015 — vol­ume fell 7-8% in Jan­uary-Fe­bru­ary. The NCR ac­counts for 1213% of the coun­try's to­tal pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sales. For lux­ury car mak­ers, it is al­most 20-25%.

The likes of Mahin­dra, Tata Mo­tors and Toy­ota have started work­ing on petrol ver­sions of their diesel-run ve­hi­cles to over­come the curbs. Lux­ury car­mak­ers have di­verted a larger share of petrol-pow­ered ve­hi­cles to the NCR mar­ket.

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