Maruti Suzuki is likely to introduce its in-house developed 1.5-litre diesel engine to the Vitara Brezza and Ertiga in the second half of CY2021.
Maruti Suzuki, the largest carmaker of India is mulling the idea to re-enter diesel engine segment in 2021, as this space continues to draw a lot of customers, especially in the SUV and MPV segment. In that case, the high-selling Vitara Brezza compact SUV and Ertiga MPV would be the models to get diesel engines, in Maruti Suzuki’s bid to re-enter the segment.
The carmaker has reportedly initiated the process to upgrade its Manesar-based powertrain plant to start rolling out BS-VI diesel engines starting from mid-2021 or next festive season. The Manesar facility used to produce its in-house developed 1,500cc BS-IV diesel engines.
On 26th April 2019; Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava had announced that the company will phase out all diesel cars from its portfolio with effect from 1st April 2020. Following the announcement auto major discontinued diesel engine from its portfolio as the country’s auto sector entered the stricter BS-VI emission norms from April 2020.
As Bhargava said, the smaller cars with diesel engines are not viable in the new emission era, as the upgradation costs for diesel motors are much higher as compared to petrol engines, leading to a higher price for the vehicles.
However, he added that if there is a demand for BS-VI diesel cars the company might go ahead and cater to that demand. “Depending on how customers react to BS-VI diesel cars if we find there is a market of BS-VI diesel cars we will develop such a car within a reasonable period of time,” said Bhargava.
In July 2020, Maruti Suzuki’s Executive Director, Sales and Marketing, Shashank Srivastava too hinted that the carmaker may look at having a bigger BS-VI diesel engine at a later stage if there were enough customers for diesel-powered big SUVs and sedans, who do not care about economics for running the car.
Maruti Suzuki’s diesel engines
Before discontinuing the diesel engines across its portfolio, Maruti Suzuki has used the indigenously built 1.5-litre diesel motor briefly in Ciaz and Ertiga. Apart from that, the other models like Swift, DZire, Vitara Brezza, Baleno, S-Cross used to come with Fiat-sourced 1,300cc diesel engine, which was one of the most popular and widely used diesel powertrains in the country by several automakers including Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki. However, Fiat decided to pull the plug on this diesel engine due to the new emission norms.
Presently, Maruti Suzuki’s entire portfolio comes powered by 3 different petrol engine options. These are 1.0-litre, 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre petrol motors. Besides that, the carmaker also sells factory-fitted CNG variants of some of its cars.
Prior to discontinuation, diesel cars used to contribute around 23% of Maruti Suzuki’s total sales in the domestic market. While the carmaker decided to discontinue diesel cars from its portfolio, its closest rival and India’s second-largest carmaker Hyundai continued with the diesel models with 1.2L, 1.5L and 2.0L engine options. Hence, a certain chunk of diesel loyal customers went to Hyundai, leaving Maruti Suzuki, resulting in the latter losing a certain amount of its business.
Hyundai continues to witness around 60% of its customers opting for diesel-powered Creta SUV. Also, around 33% of customers still opt for the diesel variant of Venue, while Verna sedan sees 33% of customers opt for diesel trims. Interestingly, Hyundai’s sibling brand Kia too has been witnessing robust demand for its two SUVs Seltos and Sonet, with diesel versions grabbing a large chunk.
Diesel engines and other carmakers
Not only Maruti Suzuki, but several other car manufacturers also decided to phase out diesel engines from their portfolio, especially the smaller capacity engines. This was because they thought the small diesel cars would become much more expensive with BS-VI technology for the entry-level customers, as compared to their BS-IV variants.
Tata Motors and Toyota Kirloskar Motor discontinued their smaller diesel cars but continued with bigger diesel models.