Diesel car and SUV lovers can breathe a sense of relief. The Supreme Court (SC) of India, hearing a petition against the NGT ban imposed on diesel vehicles, has revoked the ban. So, the ban is now null and void. While you can thank Mercedes Benz for petitioning the SC against the NGT ban, the revocation comes with a caveat. Owners of diesel vehicles that have engines displacing over 2 liters will have to pay a 1 % green cess.
This will raise the price of diesel cars and SUVs with 2 liter+ engines by a small margin. For instance, the Innova Crysta will get pricier by about Rs. 20,000. Luxury cars SUVs will get pricier by Rs. 40,000-2 lakh depending on their original prices.
All said, buying a large engined diesel car is still a significant risk. Here are some reasons why diesels could be on their way out not just in developed countries, but in India as well:
- The price difference between petrol and diesel fuels have reduced, and are reducing further. As the difference gets smaller, diesel car owners will have to drive longer monthly distances to break even. That doesn’t make sense with ever increasing traffic congestion in most Indian cities.
- Cities around the world are banning diesel powered cars. It’s only a matter of time before Indian cities take the cue and follow. So, the Supreme Court’s intervention could be more of a temporary respite, as far as the long term survival of diesel engines is concerned.
- The Indian government, if it wants to, can increase the green tax levied on diesel cars, thus making them unattractive, while still looking both business and environment-friendly.. This will help the government achieve two objectives: 1. Reduce pollution levels by a small margin. 2. Eliminate private car owners from enjoying the diesel fuel subsidy that was originally meant for the farmers.
- Petrol-hybrids and turbo petrol engines are gaining momentum. The combination of a turbo petrol engine and hybrid power could make diesels obsolete in the passenger car sector. While turbo-diesels can also be used in hybrid systems, the cost is higher.
- Car makers seem to have already taken cue and are moving towards petrols in a big way. For instance, Mahindra – a major votary of diesel power until recently – is now betting big on petrol engines. By 2018, every Mahindra sold in the country will have a petrol engine option. Is Mahindra trying to be the first mover here? Looks like it!