Vehicle Scrappage Policy - Views of auto historian Manvendra Singh Barwani
The soon to be introduced scrappage policy has put a question mark on the future of historic and classic vehicles in India. Overdrive's Consulting Editor Bob Rupani spoke with Manvendra Singh Barwani, curator Cartier Concourse D' Elegance and renowned automotive historian and restorer, to try and understand the possible future scenario and solutions.
Manvendra Singh is a renowned automotive historian and restorer, and curator of the Cartier Concourse D' Elegance
Bob Rupani - The government of India will soon be introducing a 'Scrappage Policy'. Do you think it will actually help reduce pollution and improve our overall air quality?
Manvendra Singh - This policy is long overdue, and I am glad the government is bringing it in. Overall, it will definitely help, especially if the commercial sector where the most polluting vehicles are used is regulated in a proper manner. In the private sector, however, it will have a negative impact on those who cannot afford to purchase newer cars.
Singh is also a judge for the famous Pebble Beach Concourse (USA), and some other international events too
BR - From what we know historical cars that are over 50 years old, maybe exempted from being scrapped. What are your views on this?
MS - The policy should be such that it takes into account, not just historical cars and those made over 50 years ago, but also relevant mainstream cars which have importance to automotive, motoring and manufacturing history.
Manvendra Singh can be credited for giving India a world class event like the Cartier Concourse, first held in 2009
This event boosted our historic car movement and also significantly raised the standards of restoration in India
BR - The famed Cartier Concourse D' Elegance event, of which you were the curator, introduced a special 'Indian Heritage Class', which increased the popularity of made in India classic cars. And now we have many Fiat, Ambassador and even Contessa Club's, and so on. In case the limit is set to 50 years, what happens to these historic cars that are not so old? It will obviously also mean the scrapping of the iconic Maruti Suzuki SS 80, which started the auto revolution in India? Your views on this?
MS - The 'Indian Heritage Class' created for the Cartier Travel with Style Concours, not just helped save many of these cars, but also generated an immense amount of interest in them. And it will be a sad day to see these cars being restricted or scrapped, just for failing to meet the broad category set by the legislation, as these cars are mostly properly maintained and loved by their owners, and hardly contribute to the congestion or air pollution.
The 'Indian Heritage Class' introduced by Manvendra Singh, has helped increase the interest in these cars
Collecting and restoring Fiat's and Ambassador's, has become more attractive after the 'Indian Heritage Class'
BR - Are you aware how the government will decide if a car is historic and does not need to be scrapped?
MS - I believe the government is going to consult the various car clubs and automobile associations to decide on which cars need to be exempted from the scrappage policy. This policy cannot be a blanket policy and cars that have played a significant role in the history of the automobile industry, or are rare, should be saved.
Singh has been associated with the historic car movement in India for over 40 years, and is one of its prominent pillars
BR - Let's take an example. What if someone gets a car as a wedding gift, or wins it as a prize in a contest. Such a car may have a huge emotional value for the family and they may never want to part with it, or scrap it. Will there be a way for them to retain it?
MS From what we know about the policy, you can keep such a car even if it's over 20 years old but only after getting the fitness certificate and renewal of registration for which you will have to pay high taxes. In case you do not want to spend so much and still want to retain it without renewing the registration, you can do so. But you will not be able to use such a vehicle on public roads. We also hope the government will at least make an exception for such cars to attend vintage and classic car events a couple of times in a year.
Now, two-wheelers get the red carpet treatment too
BR - What in your view is an appropriate scrapping policy for India that will also cater to the interest of car collectors and classic car enthusiasts?
MS - The government should define and make categories, under which these cars can be saved from the scrappage policy. A panel of experts can suggest to the government which cars should be saved, and where and how they can be used. If it is a blanket policy, I am afraid India is going to lose a lot of the automobiles that may have contributed to the evolution of the auto industry in India.
The international classic car fraternity has also become aware of the great wealth of historic cars in India