Petrol powered cars are now becoming more popular than ever in the Indian market, especially in the affordable segments. In case of the Maruti Baleno premium hatchback, nearly 89 % of buyers are opting for the petrol engined model with only 11 % choosing diesel. As for the Hyundai Elite i20, 77 % of buyers are going for petrol powered cars with the remaining 23 % opting for diesels. Between April 2018 and March 2019, Maruti sold 212,000 units of the Baleno, of which 188,000 units were petrol powered and 24,000 were diesel powered. As for the Hyundai i20 Elite, which sold 140,000 units in the same period, the split between petrol and diesel was 108,000 and 32,000.
The growing popularity of petrol engined cars in the affordable segments has to do with multiple reasons, but first let’s examine what each car offers in terms of engine options.
The Maruti Baleno gets 4 engines: a 1.2 liter K-Series petrol with 82 Bhp-113 Nm, a 1.2 liter DualJet mild hybrid petrol engine with 90 Bhp-113 Nm, a 1 liter-3 cylinder turbocharhed petrol engine with 101 Bhp-150 Nm, and a 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbocharged diesel engine with 74 Bhp-190 Nm on tap. All four engines get 5 speed manual gearboxes as standard while the K-Series petrol is also available with a CVT automatic gearbox. As for the Hyundai Elite i20, the car is available with two engines: a 1.2 liter VTVT naturally aspirated petrol with 82 Bhp-115 Nm and a 1.4 liter turbocharged diesel with 89 Bhp-220 Nm. The petrol engine gets 5 speed manual and CVT automatic gearbox options while the diesel motor gets a 6 speed manual gearbox.
Coming to why petrol engines are popular than diesels in the premium hatchback segment, this has to do with the following:
1. The price gap between petrol and diesel has narrowed, and a diesel car buyer will have to drive upwards of 1,200 Kms each month in order to maximize the cost savings from diesel and recoup the higher cost of the diesel engined variant.
2. Traffic conditions in most Indian cities have gone from bad to worse, which makes driving long monthly distances a royal pain. This means that diesels don’t make sense for majority of buyers who opt to use their cars more sparingly, or for shorter daily commutes.
3. Uncertainty surrounding diesel engines is making buyers do a rethink as resale value could get affected in the years to come. Most buyers prefer to play safe rather than take risks.
4. Both the Baleno and i20 Elite are aimed mainly at city hatchback buyers. Worsening traffic conditions means that a large number of buyers are now looking for automatic gearbo options, which are unavailable with diesel engined cars. This is yet another reason why petrols are being overwhelmingly preferred by buyers.