Ministry for Road Transport and Highways expressed its intention to make Air conditioning standard for trucks above 3.5T sometime ago. The decision to mandate air conditioning was arrived based on the data provided by police of all states and union territories. Its understood that during the calendar year 2015, trucks, tippers, multi-axle vehicles and tractors caused 98,897 (19.7 per cent) road accidents and resulted in 37,458 (25.6 per cent) deaths. Buses caused 41,832 (8.3 per cent) road accidents and resulted in 12,133 (8.3 per cent) deaths.
However, in terms of road users killed in road accidents during the calendar year 2015, the share of users of trucks and buses were 16,611 (11.4 per cent) and 10,743 (7.4 per cent), respectively, out of 1,46,133 number of total road accident deaths in the country. These info was shared by Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, Minister of State for Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha couple of months back.
Inline with the earlier announcement, the dead line for mandating air conditioner in truck was April 1, 2017. Due to implementation of BS IV on April 1st the deadline was further revised to Dec 31, 2017. But now its understood that, instead of full fledged air conditioner, the amendments are made to provide either blowers in all goods vehicles of category N2 and N3, (trucks above 3.5T). Air conditioning is not removed completely but now its more of option.
AIS 056 – Requirements of truck cabin ventilation
MoRTH has released a draft notification on 8th Aug’17 requiring that all N2 & N3 category vehicles shall be equipped with air conditioning system or ventilation system conforming to requirements of AIS 056 (Rev 1):2017 effective from 1 st Jan 2018. The “AIS 056 Requirements of Truck Cabin Ventilation System for Category N2 & N3 Vehicles” gives guidelines for natural and forced ventilation. This includes the guidelines for both OE and third party built cabs.
In case of natural ventilation, the total combined unblocked area of all the openings shall not be less than 120 cm2/m3 of cabin volume. This includes front quarter windows, rear quarter windows, roof hatch, rear window, air extractors, kick vents, front panel vents etc. For trucks sold as cowl, the truck manufacturer shall provide body building guidelines on the openings required in the Cabin to facilitate their inclusion during body building.
Every truck cabin shall be installed with a forced ventilation system that provides a minimum combined value of the airflow from all the outlets into the cabin of 275 m3 / hr of air flow rate at voltage specified by manufacturer. The blower shall have a control that provides at least 2 flow rates such that the minimum flow rate is achieved. In case of cowl sale, forced ventilation kit should be provided as a type approved kit along with the vehicle with suitable guidelines to facilitate body builder.
Reasons and Verdict
Indian truck industry has recently migrated to BS IV and it required considerable amount of time and energy to migrate the complete portfolio. Adding Air conditioner to the trucks, will require considerable upgradation in engine power across platforms. This may require some of the economy truck platform to be scrapped or to be revisited. Average engine power for a 25T rigid truck may increase to over 200hp from the current level of 180hp. When the regulation got published first, there were works underwent to fit electric Air conditioners instead of engine driven air conditioners to save the reserve power. But now somehow the regulation is diluted to have air conditioning as optional and to have only blowers. Though regulation can mandate the trucks to have AC, we really cant mandate usage. Also with no real time monitoring of diesel in trucks, there is every chance of driver not utilising the air conditioning still claiming the diesel allowances for the same. But these are practical difficulties which needs to be mitigated on the go.
Manufacturers like BharatBenz was actively involved in lobbying for mandating Air Conditioning in trucks and promoted it as safety and fuel efficient solution. Complete range of trucks from BharatBenz is currently available with Air conditioning as option unlike Ashok Leyland and Tata motors. BharatBenz has also proved that Air conditioning usage will not have a considerable impact in fuel performance as well. Whatsoever it its, truck drivers will have to wait for some more time to enjoy cool breeze.
Source and ref : AIS 056 – Requirements of Truck Cabin Ventilation