When the new BS6 emission norms came into effect in April 2022, we saw several compact and midsize vehicles and even some luxury vehicles losing their diesel powertrains owing to heavy investment costs and decreasing demand for diesel-powered vehicles. Come April 1, 2023, an even stricter set of emission regulations under Real Driving Emission (RDE) norms will apply to all the vehicles sold in India. It is another dead-end for smaller diesel-powered vehicles, and the first car which is set to face the axe under the new RDE norms is the Hyundai i20 diesel.
Currently, the Hyundai i20, along with the Tata Altroz, is the only diesel-powered hatchback available in the country. Hyundai had already discontinued the diesel variants of the Grand i10 Nios and Aura, which were powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder 75 PS diesel engine. The third-generation Hyundai i20 is currently available with two petrol-powered engines – a 1.2-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated 83 PS petrol and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged 120 PS petrol, and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.
Only 10% of sales from diesel variants
Since the latest version of the Hyundai i20 launched in India back in 2020, only 10 per cent of the sales are coming from diesel-powered variants according to ACI. This share of diesel variants is much lower than the almost 50 per cent share of the diesel variants of the second-generation i20, which were sold in India from 2014 to 2019.
In the last two years, the uncertainty around diesel vehicles has reached an all-time high, as a result of which buyers are shifting more towards petrol-powered vehicles. Adding to it, the price difference between petrol and diesel is also not as much as how it used to be a few years ago when diesel-powered hatchbacks were in huge demand. To comply with the RDE norms, the 1.5-litre diesel engine of the Hyundai i20 has to go under a lot of extensive changes. The changes include adopting a more expensive selective catalytic reduction (SCR) method of emission controls, which will further increase the prices of diesel vehicles.
Currently, this 1.5-litre diesel engine is available with a fixed geometry turbocharger (FGT) in the i20 and Venue, and with a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) in the Verna, Creta and Alcazar. If Hyundai decides to axe the diesel variants of the i20, the engine might be sold only with the variable geometry turbocharger to keep production costs lower. If this happens, the Hyundai Venue will also adapt the VGT for its diesel variants, thus making it more powerful and torquey in the transition process.