Maruti Suzuki India (MSI), the country’s largest carmaker, is looking to launch cars back again with diesel engine by next year as the vertical continues to attract many buyers, especially in the high-selling SUV and multipurpose vehicle segments, according to industry sources.
With the adoption of tougher BS-VI emission requirements in April this year the automobile giant discontinued diesel models from its catalogue.
Maruti Suzuki has started the project to upgrade its Manesar-based powertrain facility, according to the sources, so that it can start rolling out BS-VI diesel engine cars from next year’s mid or festive season.
Sources have reported that the organization expects to start using the BS-VI compliant diesel powertrain in the domestic market in the Ertiga and Vitara Brezza areas.
However, the automobile major did not specify any reasons for the reentry into the diesel market.
An MSI spokesperson said in a statement when contacted: “We cannot give any guidance on future technologies.”
Sources said the company is looking to update the current set-up at the Manesar factory, which was previously used to churn out its 1,500-cc diesel engine compliant BS-IV produced in-house.
Before choosing to pull the plug on the diesel market, MSI had used this powertrain briefly in its mid-sized sedan Ciaz and Ertiga.
At the time, the company’s other versions, such as Vitara Brezza, Dzire, Swift, S-Cross and Baleno, used to be powered by the 1,300 diesel unit from Fiat.
Currently, MSI’s entire product range is powered by BS-VI compatible 1 litre, 1.2 litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines. CNG variations of some of the models are offered by the company.
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MSI Chairman RC Bhargava announced on April 26, 2019, that the company would phase out all diesel cars from its portfolio effective April 1, 2020.
He reasoned that with the coming of BS-VI compliant vehicles, small diesel cars would have the greatest benefit in terms of pricing.
At the time, however, he added that if there was a market for BS-VI diesel vehicles, the company could go ahead and satisfy the demand.
Bhargava said, “Depending on how customers react to BS-VI diesel cars if we find there is a market of BS-VI diesel cars we will develop such a car within a reasonable period,”
MSI Executive Director of Sales and Marketing Shashank Srivastava indicated in July this year that if there were enough buyers for diesel-powered large SUVs and sedans, the company might look at making a larger BS-VI diesel engine at a later stage.
Srivastava had said, “Those customers who do not care about economics for running the car may still be buying the diesel cars and for that, the company has said it is watching the market very closely,”
MSI used to get about 23% of its overall domestic market revenue from diesel trims. The void was expected to be filled by vehicles fueled by alternative fuel options such as CNG.
While MSI agreed to discontinue diesel cars from its portfolio, Hyundai Motor India, the country’s second-largest passenger car manufacturer, continued with diesel models.
Currently, to fuel its product line, it uses a range of BS-VI compatible diesel powertrains, including 1.2 litres, 1.5 litre and 2-litre performance engines.
Several other car manufacturers, especially small-capacity engines, have agreed to phase out diesel powertrains because they felt small diesel cars would become costly and therefore out of reach for entry-level buyers.
Companies such as Tata Motors and Toyota Kirloskar Motor have discontinued small diesel engines in their multi-purpose vehicles and SUVs while proceeding with larger powertrains.
Hyundai Motors continues to get close to 60 percent of customers still opting for diesel trims from Creta as the SUV sector continues its upward march in the country. Similarly, around 32-33% of customers also opt for Venue diesel models and about 30-33% of customers choose Verna diesel trims.
Similarly, the high market for diesel models of Seltos and Sonet continues to be fulfilled by Kia Motors.