Starting April 2020, more stringent, BS VI emission norms are going to be enforced on all newly manufactured vehicles. These will require additional changes to be made to the existing set of diesel engines which currently power a wide range of popular cars in India. While these changes will increase costs, prices of petrol and diesel have been running neck and neck. Both factors combined, the initial high cost one pays for a diesel powered car, in return for better fuel efficiency and cheaper cost of fuel, is moving further away from being justified. Due to this very reason, diesel engines, especially the smaller ones will become less practical and Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car manufacturer may discontinue selling diesel variants of their popular cars like the Swift, Baleno and Dzire.
Currently, the price difference between a petrol variant and diesel variant of a car ranges from INR 1 Lakh to INR 1.5 Lakh. With the additional hardware that will be installed to meet the upcoming BS VI emission norms, the price difference would go up by another lakh or so, making it nearly impossible for a diesel car to justify the high sticker price over a petrol powered variant. While a diesel engine is more fuel efficient to run, it usually takes a period of 4 to 6 years with regular running to cover the initial price difference. With the increase in the cost of the diesel engine, it will take twice as long for a customer to get back the invested money.
During an interview with Cardekho, RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki, said, “If the numbers (sales for diesel cars) come down significantly (post BSVI introduction), then you have to look at whether you should launch any new models with diesel or not. Ultimately, you make a model hoping to sell (in) adequate numbers. But if the customers are going off diesel, then what is the purpose?” But Maruti would not be taking all diesel engines off the shelf. There are rumours of a new 1.5-litre diesel engine that will find its way under the bonnet of the recently launched Ertiga, Ciaz and S-Cross.