The market share of diesel-powered vehicles in the new car marker has been fast dropping. Currently, it stands at roughly 22 per cent, which is a huge dip from the above 50 per cent share diesel-sipping vehicles enjoyed in 2012-13. Many factors have been instrumental in the decreasing popularity of diesel cars in India. One of these is the reduction in the price gap between petrol and diesel. From the highest-ever price gap of Rs 29 a litre, the stickier fuel now costs only about Rs 5-7 a litre higher. In fact, in some locations, prices of petrol have already dropped below those of diesel.
The future certainly looks gloomy for diesel-powered vehicles. Apart from the reduced price gap between the fuel prices, the advent of the BS-VI emission norms is pushing many companies to mull over discontinuing their diesel-powered models. Maruti Suzuki, which enjoys a market share of more than 50 per cent, has already announced that it will stop diesel car sales post the advent of the stricter emission regulations in April 2020.
In fact, in the wake of the noose hanging around diesel-sipping cars these days, Tata Motors may also tread in Maruti’s footsteps and discontinue all its diesel-powered small cars. This is quite interesting, especially if you consider that diesel engine has been Tata’s forte. Now, however, it looks ready to discontinue the 1.05-litre oil-burner for the Tiago and the Tigor. In fact, neither of its upcoming small cars, which include the Altroz and the production-spec H2X, would have a diesel heart. The unwillingness by the companies to continue offering diesel engine options is due to many reasons.
First, the introduction of BSVI-compliant engines will further widen the gap between the prices of petrol and diesel engines by another Rs 1 lakh or more. Moreover, the prices of petrol and diesel will get even closer to each other with the introduction of BSVI-compatible fuels. Finally, the ever-increasing fuel efficiency of petrol engines has made their diesel counterparts looks unnecessary to most.
Speaking on this development, Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, has said-
We feel that low demand for entry- and mid-size diesel models will not justify the high costs involved in developing a new small capacity engine.
Pareek has even said that as much as 80 per cent of the demand in the small car segment is for petrol models anyway. So, the additional investment for developing BS VI-compliant diesel engines for the aforementioned segment does not make much sense.
So, is this the end of the road for Diesel engines in India? Cars24 explains.
In order to counter the ever-increasing pollution and make the tailpipe emissions less harmful, India, which currently has BS-IV cars available, will leapfrog BS-V norms and directly adopt the Euro-5-comparable BS-VI regulations. This will result into many manufacturers investing a huge amount to make cleaner diesel engines. The usage of expensive filters in BS-VI-compliant diesel engines and the huge money-input by the companies will result into Diesel cars getting a lot pricier, which will, eventually, lead to a steep drop in their demand.
As per some independent analysts, diesel cars could cost as much as Rs 2 lakh higher than their petrol siblings post the roll-out of the BS-VI norms. Much of this will be due to the installation of new catalytic converters, particulate filters and using upgraded engine management software.
In fact, even globally, Volkswagen, the German auto giant, has been facing a tough time to meet the emission standards. In 2015, it came to light that its vehicles polluted far more than the recommended levels and the company had used a cheat software to show compliance with the emission norms. This scandal is known as ‘Dieselgate’ and it’s suspected that even many other car companies have committed similar frauds to pass the ever-tightening emission tests.
See Also – 5 Best Diesel Cars Under 8 Lakhs in India
Well, no, not really. Implementing a carpet ban on diesel-powered vehicles will pose a huge challenge to the government. It’s worth a mention here that it took Europe over a decade to completely shift to the Euro-6 emission norms, while India isn’t very far from implementation of the BS-VI standards. Hence, a sudden restriction on diesel passenger vehicles looks highly unlikely to come by.
Also, it may be noted that the SUV segments have shown the highest growth in recent times. And 70 per cent of the SUV buyers has preferred opting for the diesel variants, which is mostly due to the engine’s grunty nature going well with the robust design of the vehicle. Hence, a sudden shift in preference towards petrol-powered SUVs looks highly unlikely.
Finally, there is really no denying that generally, diesel-powered cars offer lower running costs and higher torque than their petrol-powered alternatives. Hence, those with really high usage and even those who require a high torque output are unlikely to adopt petrol-powered vehicles.