Honda plans smaller diesel engine to power future small cars

Honda is a bit late to the diesel party in India, but it’s coming in at high speed. After recently launching its first diesel engine in India, in the form of the 1.5 litre iDtec engine in the Honda Amaze, Honda is reportedly working on a smaller 1-litre to 1.2 litre diesel engine that will power a range of small cars.

This engine may take about three years to develop, so don’t expect any smaller diesels from Honda until 2016. However, the 1.5 litre iDtec engine will go into five new cars from Honda from next year onward, including the new Honda City, new Jazz and others. Also read: Honda to launch five cars by 2016, all with diesel engines

Honda plans smaller diesel engine to power future small cars

Honda’s chief engineer for large projects, Atsushi Arisaka apparently told SmartInvestor that the company is planning to develop a smaller diesel engine between 1-litre and 1.2 litres. However, by the time this engine comes into the market, rivals such as Maruti and Hyundai would have already got smaller diesel engines for their small hatchbacks.

Hyundai is likely to move first with a 1.1 litre diesel engine in the new Hyundai i10 planned for launch later this year. This engine could then move into a few other products as well. Currently, Hyundai’s smallest diesel engine is a 1.4 litre unit that powers the Hyundai i20 and the base variant of the Hyundai Verna.

Maruti only has a 1.3 litre diesel engine from Fiat, which it uses in a number of its cars including the Ritz, Swift, SX4 and Ertiga, as well as its likely use in the upcoming Maruti XA Alpha compact SUV. It is reportedly developing a 1-litre diesel engine that would power cars like the Maruti Wagon-R and even the Maruti Alto, giving it good volumes. Currently, the car with the smallest diesel engine in India is the Chevrolet Beat diesel that uses a 1-litre three-cylinder diesel engine. Tata is reportedly working on an even smaller 800 cc diesel engine for the Tata Nano that may be launched next year. Also read: Six upcoming diesel cars for 2013

Honda plans smaller diesel engine to power future small cars

Honda meanwhile has invested Rs. 2,500 crores in its plant at Tapukara in Rajasthan, where it produces the new diesel engine and its components. It also exports these components from that plant to other countries. The plant is likely to play a key role in all Honda’s future engine plans in India and for the Asian market.

The company is reportedly studying the market below the Honda Brio segment to launch a smaller car that will cater to entry-level car buyers. The smallest car Honda has right now is the Honda N-One that it recently launched in Japan. Could that fit into its India plans? Also read: Five practical cars that should be launched in India