Indian Environmental Minister Calls Diesel SUVs "Criminal"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
indian environmental minister calls diesel suvs criminal

While Americans wonder if Mahindra will ever bring its diesel-powered trucks and utes to the US market, its main offerings are coming under attack at home. India’s Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh put diesel-powered SUVs on blast this week, calling the oil-burning utes “criminal” and telling a UN conference that

We are worried about the rate of green house emissions from transport sector. There is need for mandatory fuel efficiency standards. Big vehicles like SUVs should stay off roads

Minister Ramesh’s plan is two-fold: first, he is calling for an end to India’s subsidy of diesel fuel, arguing that diesel contributes disproportionately to India’s greenhouse gas emissions. The second portion of his plan is more controversial, but should sound familiar to American readers: get rid of those nasty SUVs. Ramesh explains

Put a penalty on the type of cars you don’t want to see on the roads, which are diesel-driven cars, SUVs… We cannot ask people to buy or not buy a particular car. But through an effective fiscal policy, we can certainly have an impact

India’s auto industry insists it’s ready for diesel prices to be cut free, but they’re fighting back against Ramesh’s suggestion of a jihad on SUVs.

One industry expert tells OneIndia

The Minister needs to have some more facts and figure in mind. See in the early 90s when the diesel contribution to the automobile was barely between 3-5 percent, today in 2010 it is almost 37 percent and what are the volumes we are talking of SUVs in that is not more than 2-3 percent… how is that going to help anybody in banning SUVs. Why not ban the entire diesel range– taxis and commercial vehicles — which are running on subsidised diesel?

And Ramesh has already fought off accusations that his anti-diesel campaign would hurt farmers by arguing that

the real beneficiaries of the subsidy were owners of “BMWs, Benzs and Hondas”, not the farmers.

A BMW spokesman fired back, arguing

we meet all stipulated emission standards. To check emissions, the government should come out with a scrappage policy for old vehicles like buses and autos

But, at the end of the day, India faces some tough choices as it seeks to both grow its market for cars and keep its pollution levels down. And if Mahindras can pass the EPA’s emissions tests, the problem does seem to be more with old vehicles than modern diesels. But, as other markets have already found, SUVs make a fantastic scapegoat. Expecting logic to rule in a debate over these polarizing vehicles is more than a little unrealistic.

Join the conversation
2 of 13 comments
  • Nishant Sirohi Nishant Sirohi on Nov 14, 2010

    somebody please ask MR jairam Ramesh why the hell there is always a huge queue of trucks at the border of every state causing massive traffic jams. on a 20 kms signal free section in delhi right after midnight the trucks clog it up completely (to be noted that more than 8 major hospitals of the city fall on that route, because the trucks are waiting to pay toll to enter the state of Uttar Pradesh from delhi. and i sometimes wonder that why doesnt india has same emission norms in the entire country and do the trucks fall under this.

  • Slumba Slumba on Nov 14, 2010

    It is encouraging, in a way, to see that the USA has no monopoly on blowhard global warming politicians. Would be interesting to know the means of transportation the good minister uses on a daily basis.

  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.