Diesel car ban to affect Mahindra most

Pawan-Goenka Pawan Goenka, executive director of Mahindra & Mahindra | Agencies

The findings of a study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) will be crucial in determining and reacting to the impact of diesel vehicles on the air quality of Delhi, Pawan Goenka, executive director of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), said on Friday.

He was speaking to the media on the subject of the Supreme Court's decision to ban registration of diesel vehicles with engines heavier than 2000cc in Delhi. The interim order is likely to affect M&M the most among Indian automakers.

Reiterating his recent statement that the severity of the air quality problem in Delhi will entail painful measures for all stakeholders, Goenka said, “We have to take decisions based on data, facts and figures. If that means banning diesel vehicles, so be it. But it should not become an emotive decision.” The case will be heard next on January 5.

Goenka admitted that his company will be among the worst-hit because of the decision and said that the technical and time requirements of automakers should be taken into account while taking a final call on the future of diesel vehicles. The company's immediate priority is to service clients who have already placed orders for diesel vehicles. Their advances will be duly refunded, president and chief executive (automotive) Pravin Shah said.

On other measures being taken to deal with the court's decision, Goenka said, “We are already on the way to having a fairly strong petrol portfolio.” He was speaking at the pre-launch function of the company's new compact SUV, the KUV100. He added that while the petrol variants of the Scorpio and XUV brands are exported, they were not sold domestically as there was no market for them in India.

“We don't know if consumers (in India) will buy petrol vehicles of that size.” M&M's team is also working on how to take the 2000cc+ vehicles outside Delhi NCR and sell them there, he said.

Goenka was able to make a pitch for the company's range of electric vehicles which, he said, was the only perfectly clean way to go. He even said there should be incentives from the government for using such cars as the acquisition cost of an electric vehicle is far higher than that of a comparable petrol or diesel vehicle. Responding to a question on biodiesel-powered vehicles, Goenka said, “We can start selling biodiesel vehicles tomorrow—literally, tomorrow—if the fuel is available.”

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