Aiming to boost sales, Tata Motors will soon be launching a petrol option for its popular Harrier SUV
As of now, Harrier is ahead of rivals such as Jeep Compass and Mahindra XUV500, but trails behind MG Hector. Compass and Hector already have petrol option whereas XUV500 is expected to get it when the next-gen variant is launched next year.
Ahead of launch, 2021 Tata Harrier Petrol SUV has been spied testing on the outskirts of Pune, near the company plant by automotive enthusiast Prem Kumar. The SUV is seen with some kind of emission testing equipment. This is similar testing equipment we have seen earlier when cars on test by ARAI. It is possible that the Harrier petrol is at the ARAI for homologation as launch is expected next year.
Why Harrier petrol?
There are multiple reasons why Tata Motors is keen on launching Harrier in petrol format. One obvious goal is to attract customers that prefer petrol powered cars. There’s growing preference for petrol powered cars, even in the SUV segment.
If we consider Hector sales, a significant chunk comprises petrol variants. With only a diesel option, Harrier is currently unable to tap into this customer base. In Tata’s own portfolio, the popular Nexon records 65-70 percent sales from petrol variants.
MG Hector is the leading sales chart in the segment. In Nov 2020, Hector (Hector and Hector Plus), registered sales of almost 3,500 units. In comparison, Harrier managed to sell about 2,200 units. MG has stated in the past that about 50% of their sales come from petrol Hector. With Harrier petrol missing out from the equation, there is no doubt that Tata is losing huge chunk of potential sales.
Another factor is that a petrol option will reduce the starting price of Harrier. If we compare with rival Hector, it’s evident that Harrier diesel has the lower starting price. It is available at Rs 13.84 lakh, which is less than Hector (Rs 14.01 lakh). Something similar is expected when Harrier petrol is launched. With its low pricing, Harrier petrol will become a lot more attractive as compared to rival products. It will also emerge as a viable upgrade option for customers.
Harrier petrol will also allow the company to launch a petrol-hybrid variant at a later date. Petrol-hybrid is already available with MG Hector. Considering the envisioned future that will have an all-electric ecosystem, petrol-hybrids will play an important role in ensuring a smooth transition. In all probability, diesel powered cars will be among the first to be junked as we come closer to an all-electric age.
Harrier petrol powertrain
Powering Harrier petrol will be a new 1.5-litre, direct-injection turbo petrol motor that will be capable of dishing out more than 150 hp of max power. This will be essentially a four cylinder version of the existing 1.2 Revotron turbo petrol motor that powers Nexon compact SUV. Harrier petrol is expected to be offered with both manual and automatic transmission options. This new engine will also be used for Tata Motors Gravitas SUV.
Apart from the engine, Harrier petrol will be largely the same as the current diesel model. At most, there could be some unique badging or new colour options. It will be interesting to see if Harrier petrol could help it overtake its primary rival MG Hector.