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Petrol: The SUV’s new elixir?

9th Aug 2017 5:07 pm

With the rollback of GST cuts, the rising anti-diesel sentiment and no relief for full hybrids, can SUVs bank on petrol?

Shunned for a long time, petrol is now finally emerging as the hope for SUVs and large luxury cars. Being more expensive and also inherently less efficient, our market wasn't really in favour of petrol-powered SUVs. Even after the deregulation of fuel prices and the resultant narrower price gap, consumers still looked to diesel as their choice of fuel. What also helped is the increasing level of refinement from oil-burners.

However, with issues like the global diesel emission scandal and the diesel ban in India, it is apparent that in a world of rising environmental awareness, the popularity of the fuel is on a rapid decline and it may not be a part of our future at all. Globally, markets like England and France intend to move towards full electrification by 2040 and India too has a highly ambitious all-EV target of 2030.  

With the advancement of the BS-VI norms, the doubtful EV target and the cutback on relief for full hybrids, our auto policy does not show signs of a well thought-out structure, and it wouldn't be surprising if diesel ended up with a ban before 2030.

Thus, a rising number of carmakers are looking to petrol for their luxury cars and SUVs. Mercedes, Audi and BMW only recently began offering petrols on some of their models. Another case in point is the new Land Rover Discovery. The company recently unveiled the all-new Discovery and has not only offered the choice of both diesel and petrol engines on the luxury SUV but has made the engine option available across the trim range. Another indicator of the company’s desire to push petrol is the massive price difference between the fuel options. The base S trim with a petrol engine is cheaper by Rs 10 lakh, while the top-end ‘First Edition’ is cheaper by a massive Rs 18 lakh.

The petrol tilt isn't just limited to luxury SUVs. Tata is all set to launch the Nexon with a petrol powerplant, while Maruti is expected to introduce the option of a petrol to its Brezza line-up.

Thus, our market is set to see a rising share of petrol power; a trend that's already begun. The percentage of diesel vehicles sold fell to 38 percent from 41 percent in April-June 2017, while the ratio of petrol vehicles rose to 62 percent from 59 percent.

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