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Rediff News  All News  » Business » Star ratings for cars put on the back burner

Star ratings for cars put on the back burner

December 13, 2013 11:00 IST

CarsThere is no consensus on the most important aspect of a vehicle -- the weight, said a senior Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers executive

The move to implement a proposal of star ratings on passenger vehicles, similar to those seen on electrical appliances, is likely to be delayed by several months. Stakeholders from the automobile sector and the government are divided over key facets.

It was expected the ratings, aimed at helping a consumer select the most fuel-efficient car within his/her budget, would be implemented this month or the next.

“There is no consensus on the most important aspect of a vehicle -- the weight.

“So, according to present criteria, fuel-efficiency ratings for that of Maruti Suzuki models will be affected if there is a launch by BMW tomorrow.

“This needs to be sorted before the star ratings can be brought into effect,” said a senior Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) executive.

Utility vehicles, too, will display efficiency ratings -- the more the stars, the better the fuel efficiency.

The ratings will be given by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency under the Ministry of Power, in association with the Petroleum Conservation Research Association, under the aegis of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The Automotive Research Association of India and National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project will assist the two agencies.

Siam is hoping no additional charges are slapped on car manufacturers for the ratings.

Last year, BEE issued a consultation paper that defined fuel-efficiency standards, based on fuel consumption in litres/100 km.

The bureau hopes the move will push car makers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles.

New launches in a particular segment will define the ratings for the entire segment.

For instance, if a new model Z has the highest fuel efficiency of 28 km a litre, it would change the rating of model ‘X’, which has an efficiency of 20 km a litre.

When the star ratings come into effect, consumers are expected to compare the ratings with those of Maruti Suzuki, the largest car manufacturer in the country and whose marketing bandwagon rides on the high fuel efficiency claimed by its models.

But the Delhi-based company is not losing sleep over the government’s proposal. “Customers will never get the kind of mileage stated for their vehicle of choice by the manufacturer because the test cars are driven in an environment that is very different from everyday driving conditions in India.

Fuel quality, driving habits and vehicle conditions differ vastly between these conditions,” said a senior Maruti Suzuki official.

Though the government is yet to formally bring about the changes required for car makers to mandatorily disclose fuel-efficiency figures, the sector has, through the last few years, voluntarily displayed fuel-efficiency figures.

Swaraj Baggonkar in Mumbai