The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to explain the details about the tests carried out on diesel cars produced by German auto major Volkswagen. A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi summoned ARAI Director Rashmi Urdhwareshe to appear before it on February 2 and explain the technical aspects of the examination which was carried out on these vehicles in 2015. The order came after the tribunal was informed that ARAI carried out tests at the instance of Ministry of Heavy Industries and examined 11 BS-IV compliant diesel vehicles of the German company under different conditions."It appears from the report placed before us by ARAI that instructions to examine the said vehicles were given by the Ministry to ARAI along with the liberty to interact with Volkswagen India officers.The automobile giant had earlier submitted a roadmap before the tribunal to recall over 3.23 lakh vehicles in the country fitted with a 'defeat device' meant to fudge emission tests.
"To evaluate the worth of the said report of ARAI dated October 30, 2015, it is necessary to get certain inputs from the Director of ARAI, Pune. We therefore direct Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI to remain present before us on the next date with all the factual and technical inputs regarding the examination and testing carried out by ARAI," the bench, also comprising expert member Nagin Nanda, said.A 'cheat' or 'defeat device' is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars.
Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced the recall of 3,23,700 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI conducted tests on some models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.The automobile giant had admitted to the use of 'defeat device' in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets that allowed manipulation of emissions tests by changing the performance of vehicles to improve results.
After the tests by ARAI, Volkswagen India had undertaken to rejig the software by recalling around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms.The company, however, had said that the recall in India was purely voluntary in nature as it did not face any charges regarding violating emission norms in India unlike in the US.
The counsel for the car manufacturer had told the NGT that ARAI, which is being consulted on the redesign of the software, had approved it for only 70 per cent of the 3.23 lakh vehicles.ARAI, however, had said the Volkswagen had submitted redesigned software for only 70 per cent and was yet to do so for the remaining 30 per cent.The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by a school teacher Saloni Ailawadi and a few others seeking ban on sale of its vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.