Talking about the upcoming BS VI norms, which will further tighten the noose on what comes out of tail pipes, Maruti Suzuki’s chairman, RC Bhargava’s commented, “The question that customer will have to ask himself is that should I buy a BSVI diesel or should I buy a petrol BSVI car. By that time, we can start equipping these BSVI petrol cars with strong hybrid technology. Strong hybrid technology will give 30 per cent improvement in fuel consumption. There’s a possibility that, going down, it can become better than 30 per cent. But 30 per cent is what is likely. The Suzuki-Toyota agreement in Japan will give us the technology required to get to this 30 per cent improvement. The customer has to make a choice then between diesel or petrol hybrid, and our production naturally will have to be adjusted according to customer demand. So that’s one new thing which will come into next year.”
Maruti Suzuki has a strategic partnership with Toyota to introduce new hybrid and electric cars in the Indian market as soon as 2020. Maruti Suzuki also commented on the possibility of putting a full stop on manufacturing variants of their popular cars which are powered by small capacity diesel engines like the Dzire, Swift and Baleno. With the introduction of the new BS VI emission norms, the price difference between petrol and diesel cars is very likely to go till INR 2.5 Lakh. This may discourage customers from opting for oil burners, making petrol hybrid drivetrains a relevant alternative. Hybrid powertrains are as much as 30% more frugal than their petrol only counterparts.
The hybrid drivetrains, however, would come at a cost of over INR 2.5 Lakh over the regular petrol counterparts. This would make them as expensive as the diesel variants but the hybrid variants offer certain more advantages. While the running costs, when compared with a diesel engine, will be the same, the hybrid powertrain will be more environmentally friendly. Moreover, in places like Delhi, the car would be registered for a period of 15 years, compared to 10 years with a diesel engine.
Even if Maruti does bring in a hybrid car, it will be interesting to see in which segment the car gets placed in. Will it be an all-new car which will be fitted with this strong hybrid tech? Or will it be an existing platform which will be modified to accommodate this Toyota sourced technology? Already, there are rumours that a Maruti badged Corolla-based sedan could arrive in 2020. Whatever the product’s form might be, for being the market leader, it’s great to see the carmaker taking the lead in the Hybrid space. Given Maruti’s humongous following, this will ensure that the technology’s acquaintance and acceptance will happen on a large scale, only making it easier for others to follow.