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Auto firms rev up for US, Europe

November 03, 2008 10:36 IST

Domestic automobile companies are equipping new car models with the next-generation, Euro-V engines, which will facilitate them to explore newer export markets in Europe and the US. The auto majors have introduced a range of petrol engines for their compact cars, which comply with the Euro-V norms and are meant for the export markets.

The auto majors' move also enables them to prepare for the stringent emission norms to be introduced in the country in coming years.

A recent Standard & Poor's report on the US auto industry reveals that electric vehicles and compact cars will be the next growth drivers in the passenger vehicle segment.

Maruti Suzuki, the largest car manufacturer in the country, recently commissioned its engine plant in Gurgaon, which will manufacture the K series engines. The K series engines will first be strapped onto its A Star model, due to be launched in November, and then fitted to other models, starting from the Maruti 800 to other superior models for the domestic market.

Maruti hopes to export about 1 lakh units of the A Star to Europe. "In terms of styling, carbon dioxide emission and fuel efficiency, the A Star has gained acceptance in European markets," said Shinzo Nakanishi, CEO and managing director, Maruti Suzuki.

In the face of a domestic slowdown, Nakanishi is counting on exports to boost production and sales volumes for 2009.

Hyundai, the largest car exporter from the country by sales volumes, is also eyeing Europe with its newly-launched Kappa engine (R&D budget of $421 million) strapped to its best-selling small car, the i10. Till date, the Korean car major has exported over 65,000 i10s from India out of its target of about 1.5 lakh cars, which include the Santro models too.

According to Maruti, its K series engines are the most advanced among petrol engines. Speaking to Business Standard earlier, Shinzo Nakanishi had said: "The A Star emits about 109 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which can be lowered further."

While Hyundai's Kappa engine emits 119 grams of CO2 per kilometre, engines used by General Motors (8v SOHC engine) for its compact cars like Spark and UVA Aveo and Tata Motors' latest Indica Vista, incorporating Fiat's CVCP Safire MPFi petrol engine, emit a similar amount of CO2, making them ready for the export markets. While General Motors exports Spark to Nepal, Tata Motors' joint venture with Fiat will help it export both cars and petrol engines.

While the latest compact cars manufactured in India are Euro-V compliant, the latest petrol car engines are also highly fuel efficient. "The lesser the CO2 emissions, the greater the fuel efficiency," says Anomita Chowdhury, associate director, Centre for Science and Environment.

India's Euro-III norms, currently in force, are five years behind those (Euro-V) enforced in Europe, while the Euro-IV norms, which are enforced outside the 13 Indian cities, are 10 years behind the European benchmark.
Danny Goodman in New Delhi
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