Emission controls, as it applies to the mobility industry, is specific to tailpipe emissions. The mobility fraternity worked on various technologies for emission controls, engine design and combustion, power transfer to the wheels, weight management and other innovation aspects that were enhanced through tools and techniques to enable cleaner tailpipes. Alternative fuels, controls, software and corresponding powertrains were developed to ensure cleaner tailpipe emissions. It burdened the cost of powertrains and chassis mainly, to find storage space and cover all safety aspects to be compliant to multiple norms in various parts of the world.
In the current context of carbon footprint and a cleaner ecosystem, perimeter of emission controls has a different connotation and probably needs to be revisited. For example, the debate around batteries in the case of XEVs, centres around making the immediate ecosystem of city centres and their suburbs cleaner, while shifting air quality and environmental issues due to recycling and manufacturing to a remote site.
Similarly, in conventional mobility, some of the technologies and resources that are used in ensuring lower tailpipe emissions have a higher environmental impact holistically. There have been various perspectives on whether to limit the emission controls and definition of clean tailpipe to the moving platforms or whether to expand them to end-to-end effects of such emissions through their respective technologies and manufacturing techniques.
In the backdrop of working on a globally clean environment and with new age technologies’ deployment, it may seem logical to measure well to wheels (W2W) emissions, and deploy relevant emission control techniques. It covers the footprint of mobility ecosystem rather than limiting it to vehicles that are moving around, causing local emissions and pollution hotspots. It also ensures that vehicles deployed in various regions of the world do not have to be fitted with a variety of emission controls equipment for deployment. It removes the burden on powertrains, the search for the best alternative fuels and in turn distributes costs over other sub-sets that are not directly residing in the vehicle but affecting air quality and emissions anyway. It reduces cost and complexity for OEMs, their partners, reducing logistical challenges, skillset challenges and resource issues.
Emission controls and standards could be based on the air quality standards across regions, where vehicle platforms are deployed in a manner that any component or sub-system that is on a vehicle must be made to meet that standard from the drawing board stage until OE fitment. This will bring in tremendous cost efficiency, resource efficiency and save time of deployment. It will also help norms and regulatory agencies to standardise their releases based on air quality standards of the country or region and do away with phases of standards and enforcement issues. It will help bring in fair play for the mobility industry.
Essentially depending on the air quality standards of a country, emissions from each sub-system will have to calculated to sum them up to the total emissions from a vehicle. This will be calculated on W2W basis of the component and correspondingly the multiple components that form these sub-systems. Emissions can then be partitioned accordingly for manufacturing, shipping, storage and other aspects.
Working backwards, each step will have to be optimised by OEMs and partners to pick and choose emissions control strategies. Based on these strategies, control techniques will need to be integrated at each stage in the respective manufacturing facility upstream and downstream, until the showroom delivery to also cover aftersales services. Such a paradigm will include stakeholders in the mobility ecosystem that are not directly engaged but have a stake in mitigation strategies. It is distributed ownership with each of the stakeholder directly contributing to sustainable emission control solutions at each level of development and eventual deployment.