Maruti’s new Rs 1,000 cr diesel might not power Ertiga, Brezza or any other car. Yesterday, Maruti Suzuki India made a huge announcement – to discontinue all their diesel engine powered cars by April 2020. Maruti will only sell petrol engine powered cars from 1st April 2020, which is when the new BS6 emission norms come into effect.
Before yesterday, Maruti was all set to replace all their diesel cars, which are currently powered by Fiat sourced 1.3 liter diesel engine, with their newly launched 1.5 liter diesel engine. Fiat was not going to upgrade the 1.5 liter engine to meet BS6 norms, as two of their biggest clients, Maruti and Tata, both had decided to develop their own diesel engine which was going to meet BS6 norms.
The first car to get the 1.5 liter diesel engine with 6 speed manual transmission is the Ciaz. Launch took place on 28th March 2019. It is offered in 3 trims with price ranging from Rs 10 – 11.5 lakhs, ex-sh. This is still a BS4 engine, but can be upgraded to BS6. Maruti had plans of plonking this same 1.5 liter engine into Brezza, Ertiga, S-Cross, etc. But after yesterday’s announcement, it is more or less clear that no other Maruti car will get the new 1.5 liter diesel engine. So why did the company spend over Rs 1,000 crores in R&D to develop an all new diesel engine?
The answer is most likely the sudden push for EVs and the govt policy of skipping BS5 and jumping directly to BS6. Maruti Suzuki India started working on the 1.5 liter diesel engine years ago, much before the govt announced to implement BS6 by 1st April 2020, and the FAME schemes.
This could be why Maruti engineered the 1.5 liter diesel engine accordingly, most likely to meet BS5 norms. Use it for 4-5 years, before the BS6 norms are implemented. But things didn’t go as per plan. This also explains as to why Maruti was against skipping BS5. All the while, they may have been planning to drop diesel engines altogether; when BS6 comes. Its just that it came 5 years ahead of the actual timeline. They didn’t expect it.
Dieselgate further scared automakers in trying to find a barely legal workaround with diesel emissions. No manufacturer would risk of implementing BS6 via jugaad (read as cheatcode). Implementing BS6 properly will not only need huge investment, but also comes with no guarantee that it will find buyers. Diff between the price of petrol and diesel cars is about Rs 1 lakh today. Post BS6, this will increase to up to Rs 3 lakhs. Not many will want to invest that kind of money in buying a diesel car, especially when price of petrol and diesel fuel is not much apart.
Instead of investing developing BS6 diesel engine, the company looks forward to launching new powertrains which are hybrid and electric. Their association with Toyota will now give them them access to world class hybrid and EV tech. Maruti aims to launch their first fully electric car in India next year. It will be WagonR electric. Maruti is currently testing electric car prototypes across India.
Maruti’s announcement of discontinuing diesel engines is huge boost for Hybrids and electric tech in India! This means, most of powertrain engineers in India are in need of re-skilling in an epic level. Just knowing the in and outs of IC engines won’t cut it anymore. They need expertise in electric motors, hybrid power management, battery management systems, new control strategies, etc. And with Maruti, with over 50% market share in passenger car segment, dropping diesel engine, and embracing hybrids and EVs, it will not take more time for others to follow the suite.