Diesel engines ruled the market for a significant period, but things started changing after 2013 due to various factors. Previously, data stated that diesel engines contributed to more than 50% of the vehicles, which has dropped to 17% since October 2020.
This decline of the diesel heart is due to multiple factors; though we all love the torque they offer, things change with time. Petrol engines are getting more fuel-efficient now. Still, no match for a diesel heart, but the turbocharged engines running these days pack a lot of power.
Som Kapoor, an automotive partner of EY India, stated: “While earlier buyers also preferred diesel due to its higher torque — or pulling power and hence more fun-to-drive character — new petrol vehicles, especially turbocharged petrol, are almost as powerful and as fuel-efficient,”
In addition to that, the customers are now focusing on the overall costing for the long term. In the current scenario, the diesel variant costs about ₹1lakh more than the petrol and is more expensive to maintain.
While another industrial opinion from the automotive sector states: “Customers now understand that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of petrol cars is lower for, say, five years or even ten years.” -Sanjeev Garg
According to the same industrial opinion, four reasons have been highlighted for this decline:
“One, the diesel-petrol price gap has reduced vastly.”
Two, according to NGT’s regulations, Registration of petrol cars is for 15 years while for diesel cars it is ten years in Delhi NCR, negatively impacting the latter’s resale value.
Three, diesel cars are 1-2 lakh more expensive than petrol, and outside of commercial applications, diesel doesn’t make sense if you don’t drive 30,000-35,000 km a year. Most importantly, Maruti Suzuki, which holds 50-55% of share in the Indian PV market, has stopped selling diesel cars.”
The automotive sector did suffer due to the pandemic and lockdown like every other industry. Then it was hit by the semiconductor shortage too, but the petrol sales picked up. The diesel, on the other hand, was going down remained unaffected. Let’s see why:
In the considered location like Delhi-NCR petrol vehicles have a 15-year registration period, diesel ones lack five years, which impacts the resale value essential in India. In addition to that, the new scrappage policy also pushes the current diesel owners towards petrol and even hybrid/electric cars nowadays.
Price hike up to 2 lakhs
Currently, the diesel variant costs a lakh more than the petrol one, but that difference will only widen with time and inflation. As the emission norms are also getting stricter, it forces companies to invest in better components. To keep the environment in check with the emissions, carmakers also need to buy better filters, engine management technology, & catalytic converters too. Overall leads to higher production costs, hence higher the price.
The decreasing gap between fuel price
We all are aware of the rising fuel prices which are hitting the sky. A while back, there was a significant difference of about ₹20 between petrol & diesel prices, and now diesel is only cheaper by about ₹7. As this gap was almost bridged, more people switched to petrol and enjoyed more power at nearly identical fuel prices.
Stricter BS-VI Norms
We all know climate change & the environment is trending, and numerous organizations have been campaigning for the same. This has led the government to make stricter emission norms for car manufacturers. This further led to the increased production cost leading to the discontinuation of some diesel variants.
Brands such as Maruti Suzuki had discontinued their 1.5L diesel engine running in Brezza, S-cross, Ciaz, Ertiga & XL6. There is a rumor about the same engine coming back next year, but nothing can be said now.
Carmakers such as Tata have also planned to discontinue diesel engines for small cars such as the Tiago & Altroz. This is a bummer as the diesel heart contributes to Tata’s reputation except for the highest safety standards.
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Lastly, German companies such as Volkswagen were involved in a scandal called “Dieselgate.” Volkswagen was accused of manipulating the emission figures with software as the norms got stricter.
No doubt these factors do not speak well, but this is no goodbye for diesel engines. As there has been a rise in the SUV & compact SUV segment, many choices were the diesel sibling. In addition to that, there is a considerable load of commercial vehicles running on diesel too.