With the implementation of BS6 norms, the popularity of diesel engines is set to take a hit, but this is old news now. We all know that the cost difference between a petrol model and its respective diesel model is going to be far greater now. While the price difference between a BS4 and BS6 petrol engine isn’t all that much, the difference in cost between a car powered by a BS4 and BS6 diesel engine has been quite a lot, with the exception of some examples.
This cost difference has also led to the surge in other costs such as insurance, vehicle registration, service costs and a lot more, which in turn has led to a further divide between the final price of diesel and petrol-powered products. No prize for guessing that more and more manufacturers are dumping their diesel engines in the BS6 era. The same path has been followed by the country’s largest car manufacturer.
Maruti Suzuki has completely phased out its diesel engines and made it very clear that it will only focus on petrol and hybrid powertrains in future in India. This means no diesel in future. We recently came across an advertisement by Maruti Suzuki which claims that one has to drive 2,60,000 km of his/her diesel car to recover that extra cost. However, this might not be accurate.
The choice of petrol or diesel should be made on how frequently one drives or a more appropriate question would be how much one drives his/her car on a daily basis? To make it easy, we will do a comparison and create a clear picture as to how much does the final cost differ and how much would it take to recover?
Now, the first assumption we make is that the people opting for a diesel car cover longer distances every day. In this case, we take an average person’s daily commute of 30 km. Now, for comparison, we choose a model which offers petrol and a diesel engine both, in BS6 compliant form. For reference, let us take the Ford Figo. The Figo is powered either by a 1.2-litre petrol engine or a 1.5-litre diesel engine. The ARAI rated fuel efficiencies of both the petrol and diesel units stand at 18.5 kmpl and 24.4 kmpl. However, these numbers are not attainable in a real-life situation, therefore, we’ll consider an easily achievable figure of 10 kmpl for petrol and 14 kmpl for the diesel unit. Driving in choc-a-bloc traffic, these numbers are the best one can achieve as an upper limit.
Then, for comparison, we consider the closest variants. Therefore we take Trend petrol and the Trend diesel variants as points of references in this comparison. A very important aspect of this comparison is going to be fuel prices. Fuel prices across the country vary from places to places. Here, we consider the prices of fuel in Mumbai as of today, i.e., Rs 77.57 and Rs 67.89 for petrol and diesel respectively. These prices vary and won’t be the same throughout the ownership period. However, let’s assume they hover around the same figure applicable today. Let us get to the comparison then:
This comparison will involve a lot of calculation, so it is important we go step by step. If we consider the daily commute of 30 km per day and divide it by their respective fuel efficiency figures we get the daily fuel consumption of 3.0 litres per day for petrol and 2.15 litres per day for diesel. If we multiply these figures with the cost of fuel in Mumbai, we get – 3.0 x Rs 77.57 = Rs 232.71 per day for petrol and 2.15 x Rs 67.89 = Rs 145.97 per day. This is the respective running cost each day of the petrol and diesel car. If we take the difference of these two, then we obtain a daily difference of Rs 86.74/-.
If this daily difference is to be counted for a month then by multiplying by 30 this turns out to be Rs 2602.2 per month. If we want the yearly difference, we multiply this number by 12 and we get a yearly difference in running cost as Rs 31,226.4. If we take a long term evaluation of five years, this price difference turns out to be Rs 1,56,132.
Now, the on-road cost of the Figo Trend petrol variant is Rs 7,05,927 and the Trend diesel variant is Rs 8,19,887 in Mumbai. The difference between these two turns out to be Rs 1,13,960. This price difference is lesser than the total running cost of five years between the diesel and petrol model. In these years, the distance covered by both these vehicles individually is – 30 km x 30 days x 12 months x 5 years turns out to be 54,000 km in total. So for a diesel car to recover the extra cost, as compared to a petrol car, in the case of the Ford Figo at least, one has to drive for just about four years or even less and for about 42,000 kilometres. The cost difference can be erased even quicker if the daily distance travelled is increased.
Now coming to the question as to who must opt for a diesel? Clearly diesel should be opted by someone who has very long commutes on a daily basis or goes on frequent inter-city drives. Also, the owner will benefit if he is willing to own a diesel car for a good amount of time. Apart from all these calculations, if one is an enthusiast and loves to drive cars, in the current scheme of things, they would surely love a modern diesel engine more than petrol because the former provides that extra punch while still returning a higher litre/km number at any given point of time, compared to a small-capacity petrol engine.