The government has clarified that there will be no toll booth anywhere in the country within the next one year. This does not mean that there won’t be any tolls. It simply means that the process of toll collection will be completely electronic and vehicles won’t have to stop in long queues to pay toll. More on this later in the copy but first let us see what made headlines in the automotive space this week.
Not everyone enthused by Scrappage incentive scheme
The long-delayed and much-awaited scrappage incentive scheme announced by the government on March 18 has been received with a mix of optimism and doubt by the automotive industry.
While industry bodies which have been lobbying for a faster implementation of the scheme have welcomed the move, some automotive companies and analysts aren’t enthused by what is on offer.
Skoda Kushaq to be launched in July
Skoda Kushaq, the midsize SUV that is set to take on the segment leader Hyundai Creta, was unveiled on March 18 and is set to be delivered to customers in July with booking set to open in June.
While price details are expected to be shared in June-July, the entry variant of the Kushaq is expected to be priced at around Rs 10-11 lakh where it will compete against the Kia Seltos, Renault Duster and the Nissan Kicks
Auto recalls hit 4 year high
Auto companies need to get their act together. Recalls made by auto firms to repair potential vehicle defects hit a four-year high in 2020, with nearly 380,000 recalls recorded in the year.
The jump was more than double of 2019, when the industry saw nearly 160,000 recalls, according to data provided by SIAM, the apex national body representing all major vehicle and vehicular engine manufacturers in India
Marc Llistosella won’t be the next MD of Tata Motors
Tata Motors said on March 19 that Marc Llistosella will not be joining as its CEO and Managing Director as was communicated earlier.
The auto major had last month announced that Llistosella would be joining as CEO and MD of the firm with effect from July 1 this year.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class launched at Rs 63.6 lakh
Mercedes-Benz E-Class long wheelbase facelift is launched with prices starting at Rs 63.6 lakh. The launch of E-Class, which Mercedes-Benz claims to be the best-selling luxury car in India, had to be advanced from the April-June quarter due to high demand.
The E-Class is available in five variants and three engine options powered by both petrol and diesel. The car’s top-end variant is priced at Rs 80.9 lakh (ex-showroom).
Honda launches CB500X Rs 6.87 lakh
Honda’s lightweight adventure tourer, the CB500X has been launched in India not too far away from their other big launches.
The Honda CB500X has been expected for a while now and the ADV is fairly well known for its capabilities, at least internationally.
No toll booths within a year, says Government
Shortly after making Fastags mandatory the government is working towards removing all toll booths across the country. Nitin Gadkari, minister, Road Transport and Highway, said in the Parliament that toll will be collected through GPS-based collection system.
“I want to assure the House that within one year all physical toll booths in the country will be removed. It means that toll collection will happen via GPS. The money will be collected based on GPS imaging (on vehicles),” Gadkari said in the Lok Sabha.
Presently dedicated Fastag lanes have been created at toll plazas to facilitate speedier movement of traffic however it is often observed that the Fastags lanes are the slowest moving. This happens because the scanner installed at the toll booth fails or takes longer than it should to read the Fastag sticker pasted on the vehicle’s windshield.
The car’s speed needs to be at crawling pace or in standstill for the sticker to be read by the scanner successfully. The coordination between the boom barrier and the scanner is linked to two factors – internet connectivity and electricity supply. If either one is absent then the entire toll collection process becomes redundant.
Even the position of the sticker on the windshield becomes a deciding factor for toll collection. While it is advised to have the sticker in the middle of the windshield many motorists the sticker in a corner of the windshield where the scanner cannot read it.
On many occasions, a vehicle that either has insufficient balance in the Fastag account or does not have a Fastag sticker at all, enters the ‘Fastag only’ lane. The National Highway authority has allowed slapping of penalty on motorists who flout this rule by doubling of the toll.
This is why the time taken by a cash paying motorist to clear the toll booth is comparatively lesser than the one who pays using Fastag. However, with the number of Fastag users increasing, the government will be forced to improve technology of scanners at the toll plazas.
In the US in certain high-speed corridors, for instance, vehicles travel at ‘full speed’ without stopping to pay toll. These are electronic toll lanes where high speeds are allowed.