Maruti Suzuki to stop building diesel cars from April 2020

Maruti Suzuki, the largest carmaker in India, has made a big announcement. From April 2020, Maruti Suzuki will stop building diesel-powered vehicles for the Indian market. This announcement was made during a recent press conference. Here’s what RC Bhargava told PTI,

From April 1, 2020 we will not be selling diesel cars. We have taken this decision so that in 2022 we are able to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency norms and higher share of CNG vehicles will help us comply with the norms. I hope the union government’s policies will help grow the market for CNG vehicles.

The statement comes at a time when most automakers are gearing up for the BS-VI emission norms, which will come into effect on April 1, 2020. It should be noted that Maruti Suzuki has already stopped offering diesel variants of the Ignis in the Indian market and currently only the Swift, Baleno, Ciaz, Ertiga, Vitara Brezza and the S-Cross are available with a diesel engine.

Maruti Suzuki diesel engines to become a thing of past?

Maruti Suzuki has been using the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine sourced from Fiat for a long time in the Indian market. For a brief period, Maruti Suzuki also offered the 1.6-litre Multijet diesel engine sourced from Fiat with the S-Cross.

Recently, Maruti Suzuki introduced the all-new 1.5-litre DDiS engine that has been developed in-house by the brand with the Ciaz. The 1.3-litre Multijet engine is not BS-VI ready, but the 1.5-litre diesel engine can be upgraded to the BS-VI standards. However, the manufacturer has not revealed any plans of updating the engine to make it compliant with the more stringent emission norms.

Currently, the diesel versions of the Maruti Suzuki models constitute around 30 per cent of the total sales, which is a massive number for the manufacturer. The move to stop all the diesel-powered Maruti Suzuki models could impact the sales of the brand.

No more diesel Maruti Suzuki models in India?

Maruti Suzuki to stop building diesel cars from April 2020

Well, Maruti Suzuki spent a large sum of around Rs 1000 crore for the development of the 1.5-litre diesel engine that debuted with the Ciaz. The manufacturer will look at the demand for the diesel vehicles after the new emission standard is in place and will take further steps. To make the 1.5-litre diesel engine BS-VI compliant, Maruti Suzuki will need to pump in more money into the project, which will further increase the price of the vehicles.

Also, while the BS-VI norms are incredibly stringent, even more stringent norms are coming. The new diesel engine will need to meet the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) that measures the emission of the vehicle in the real world condition, which is extremely difficult to achieve and is entirely different from the idle emission of the engine. RDE is measured when the vehicle is accelerating and in movement. If the demand for diesel vehicles remain strong, Maruti Suzuki may re-introduce diesel engines. RDE will come into effect from 2023.

Why is this happening?

The primary reason is cost. Indian automotive market will jump a whole generation emission standards and will adopt the BS-VI compliance from the current BS-IV norms. This needs extensive work and a large amount of sum to develop the engines.

The investment for the development of the cleaner engines will be recovered by the customers, which in turn will increase the price of the vehicles by a large margin. This is why small cars with diesel engines will no longer be viable for the manufacturers as the cost of such cars will rise tremendously after upgrading the engines to BS-VI standards.

RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India earlier hinted about dropping the diesel engines from the line-up, but this is the first official announcement from the manufacturer that confirms the move.

What’s next?

Maruti Suzuki has been working on developing hybrid systems for passenger cars for a long time now. After launching the mild-hybrid versions of the Ciaz and the Ertiga in the Indian market, Maruti Suzuki introduced an all-new 1.2-litre DualJet petrol engine with the Baleno hatchback recently, and it also gets SHVS mild hybrid system. Comparing the cost of the 1.2-litre DualJet SHVS version of the Baleno with the regular 1.2-litre variant, there is a difference of Rs 90,000, which is similar to the difference between the petrol and diesel variants. However, the SHVS system increases the overall mileage of the vehicle, which will come as a respite to the owners who buy diesel vehicles purely for distance. The extra money paid for the SHVS mild hybrid system can be recovered after a few years of use because of the high mileage.

Toyota to play an important role too

Toyota and Suzuki’s global alliance will play an essential part for Maruti Suzuki in India for eliminating the diesel engines. In the European markets, Toyota has taken the hybrid route and has stopped offering diesel engines with small vehicles. It is only the large pick-up trucks and SUVs of Toyota that offer a diesel engine in the international markets. In India, the same strategy can be adopted by Maruti Suzuki too.

According to the official details on the alliance between the two brands, Toyota will help Maruti Suzuki to develop new hybrid systems and will also work to secure suppliers for the carmaker. In the future, we may see mild-hybrid and full-hybrid systems replacing the need for diesel engines in the Maruti Suzuki line-up.

What about the other manufacturers?

Manufacturers like Mahindra, Tata and Hyundai, have not made any such announcements till now. In fact, Mahindra is developing an all-new diesel engine that will power the brand’s new model and will also go under the hood of Ford cars in India. Even Hyundai, Tata and Honda will continue to offer diesel engines in the Indian market post-2020. However, the impact on the vehicle’s prices is not known yet.