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SC lifts ban on diesel vehicles

The automobile industry has welcomed the SC decision lifting the ban on diesel vehicles.  Supreme Court handed a reprieve to the auto industry on Friday, ruling that new diesel vehicles can be allowed on the streets of the national capital as long as a 1 percent “green” tax is paid.

The news was welcomed by the auto industry after a series of lower court rulings banned diesel vehicles, both new and old, on concerns that their exhaust fumes were contributing to Delhi’s deepening air pollution crisis.

The Supreme Court allowed the registration of large diesel vehicles with an engine capacity of 2 litres or more in Delhi and the surrounding National Capital Region (NCR), according to Harish Salve, a lawyer connected to the case.

The green levy will be imposed on the retail price of each vehicle, excluding tax and other costs.

India’s highest court will decide later on whether to impose the tax, called a green cess, on diesel vehicles with smaller engines, Salve added.

The court imposed a temporary ban last year on the sale of large diesel cars in Delhi and said it was considering an additional tax, threatening sales of car makers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Tata Motors.

“We are happy that the ban has been lifted,” an official from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers told Reuters.

“There are certain companies which were very badly impacted and they will now be able to sell their vehicles and equip their market in the NCR region, and it’s good for the industry.”

Mercedes-Benz India also welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

Shares of Tata Motors ended up 2.7 percent, while Mahindra & Mahindra advanced 2.1 percent. Maruti Suzuki rose 0.4 percent.

Previous court-ordered restrictions on diesel vehicles, which experts say cause worse air pollution than other engine types, are often contradictory and poorly enforced in India.

In a recent ruling, India’s top environmental court ordered the authorities to remove all diesel vehicles over 10 years old from the capital’s streets.

Delhi is among the world’s most polluted cities and environmentalists have urged the government to tackle the problem.

“It is a regressive step and unfortunate that the central government could not defend the public cause,” Vivek Chattopadhyaya, programme manager, Air Pollution Control, Centre for Science and Environment told Reuters after Friday’s the court ruling.


Post lifting of diesel ban, a comment from Mercedes-Benz India:

“We have followed the earlier direction of the Supreme Court and filed an Interim Application seeking relief on the ban on our cars. Following the court suggestion, we as a voluntary interim measure, offered to pay 1% of the ex-showroom price of the vehicle towards anticipated Environment Compensation Charge as a deposit, and not on the premise that our vehicles are polluting the environment. We reiterate that, being the pioneers of numerous technological innovations, Mercedes-Benz has the technology available and can switch our entire fleet to BS VI by 2018, however, we need compatible fuel to do so, to provide our customers with the latest technologies which are available worldwide. We welcome the government’s decision to pre-pone mandatory BS VI to 2020. We think the introduction of BS VI fuel is the best viable option to curb pollution. Mercedes-Benz India is waiting for compatible fuel quality and as soon as the required diesel fuel is made available we are ready to switch our portfolio quickly to the EU 6 standard.”


Jeep to begin India operations soon

Jeep, the American SUV manufacturer, will officially be launching the brand in India towards the end of this month during a special event on August 31 and September 1. As shown in its official Indian website, the company will initially enter the Indian market with three of its popular products – the Grand Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee SRT and its popular off-roader, Wrangler Unlimited.

The Fiat-owned carmaker first unveiled its assortment of vehicles earlier this year at the 2016 Auto Expo, where it announced its plans to start India operations in the latter half of 2016. The carmaker even organised a special showcasing of the vehicles for some highly exclusive prospect buyers a few months back. In fact, one of its future products was spotted in India, the Jeep Renegade, testing in the country, which reveals that the carmaker is getting truly serious about its Indian venture. This also means that the launch could happen sooner than we expect.

Jeep will launch all three models on the same day along with the brand itself. Initially, all three vehicles will come to India as CBU (Completely Built Up) units and the carmaker is already working on plans for local assembly of Jeep SUVs in India. It was earlier reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced its plan to invest roughly around $280 million i.e. about 1,854 crore in India to expand the Ranjangaon manufacturing plant near Pune for the assembly of Jeep models. There have been reports suggesting that the company will roll out India-assembled Jeep models as soon as the second half of 2017. The upcoming compact SUV based on the Jeep Renegade will be one of them.

Coming back to the SUVs, the upcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee will be powered by 240bhp 3.0-litre V6 EcoDiesel engine, mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox accompanied by paddle shifters. The Grand Cherokee will also come with a 4X4 system that will ensure power is transmitted to all four wheels. The more powerful Grand Cherokee STR on the other hand sports a more powerful 475 bhp, 6.4-litre HEMI V8 petrol engine, paired to the same 8-speed automatic transmission as the standard Grand Cherokee. As for the brand’s entry-level SUV, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the off-roader will feature a 2.8-litre diesel engine that produces 197bhp and 460Nm of torque.

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