What will be the future for the Diesel engine? This comes after latest reports from Maruti Suzuki planning to cease manufacturing of the 1.3 Multijet Diesel engine which will affect some of their highest selling models viz, Swift, Dzire, Baleno, Vitara Brezza, Ertiga, Ciaz, S-Cross.
This unexpected move by the automobile giant is bound to raise some serious questions. The FIAT sourced 1.3L Multijet Diesel is a widely used diesel engine in India. From Maruti Suzuki to Tata and Chevrolet all use this specification engine for their diesel cars.
Citing a survey by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM); while petrol car’s market share skyrocketed to 60% in the financial year 2018 from 47% in 2014, Diesel vehicles, on the other hand, dropped to 40% from 53% which signifies the dwindling demand for diesel cars.
So, is this the end of the line for the frugal Diesel? GoMechanic finds out.
The BS VI (Bharat Stage 6) Emissions 2020
Times are going to get tough, the future for the Diesel engine looks dismal. With the roll-out of the Bharat Stage 6 by the year 2020, the emissions standards will get a lot stringent. This will call for various car makers to invest hefty resources into developing a cleaner Diesel engine which would make the cars a lot costlier, eventually affecting their demand.
Independent analysts claim that, with the arrival of the BS 6 norm, Diesel car will get dearer by upto 2 lakhs over the Petrol variant. 90% of this price hike will go into installing efficient catalytic converters, particulate filters and a host of other changes.
Even globally, the Diesel engine has had problems finding its way on to the roads. The Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015, also known as #DieselGate got a lot of authorities concerned. Diesel fuel has come under a lot of flak lately which explains the obvious apprehension of car manufacturers who are gradually phasing out their diesel motors.
The Introduction of Dual-Fuel
The only reason people buy Diesel (at least in India) is because Diesel fuel is cheaper and Diesel cars are more efficient than their Petrol counterparts.
This changed with the introduction of CNG and LPG as an automotive fuel. Today, a lot of cars come factory-fitted with Dual-Fuel (either Petro/CNG or Petrol/LPG) from the manufacturer. The all-time best selling Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 with CNG and Petrol Dual-Fuel has been the top choice for many car buyers.
The provision of Dual-Fuel offers huge savings on fuel expenditure and a cleaner; more greener running car. This is why Maruti Suzuki WagonR, Hyundai Xcent Prime, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Tata Indica eMax are some of the best selling commercial cars in India.
The Electric Future?
If Diesel (or any internal combustion engine, for that matter) engines are completely phased out, electric cars will be the perfect replacement.
As a matter of fact, exhibiting its commitment at the Paris Climate Change Meet, India has pledged to make a significant shift towards electric vehicles by 2030. India unveiled ‘National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020’ in 2013 to further give the EV trend a push. The Government of India also started the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.
Speaking of Electric Cars, check this out: https://gomechanic.in/blog/all-about-electric-cars/
But, there are roadblocks in the path. The most basic requirement for electric cars and we are not talking batteries but electricity. Today, the most troubling setback faced by the electric car industry is having a sustainable electric infrastructure. Just like how petrol-powered cars rely on petrol bunks, electric and hybrid cars rely on electric charging stations.
Despite all these, a fair few electric/hybrid cars have seen the light on Indian roads. The homegrown Mahindra e2O, the globally acclaimed Toyota Prius, BMW’s i3, Honda Accord Hybrid are some examples.
Is It time to say goodbye to Diesel?
Frankly no! not for a while. A total ban on Diesel will pose a great challenge for the government. It took Europe a whole decade to shift to the EURO6 (equivalent to BS6) whereas, India has got only a few years ahead as the deadline. A sudden restriction on Diesel fuel is highly unlikely.
It should also be noted that the SUV market has remained strong. With 7 out of 10 cars sold in India falling the hatchback or sedan category, Diesel SUVs have held a bullish position for the past many years. 70% SUV buyers prefer the Diesel variant with the 30% going for Petrol.
There is also no denying that Diesel engines are remarkably efficient and cheap to maintain which is why they find use in all sort of commercial transportation activities pan India. Banning Diesel fuel is not a smart move to make.1