The high cost of upgrading a diesel engine to meet the BS-VI emission standard that comes into force on April 1, 2020 will drive up prices and hamper the fuel choice’s cost-effectiveness, according to CV Raman, senior executive director (engineering), Maruti Suzuki.
“It’s not that we aren’t confident of upgrading a small diesel engine to meet BS-VI norms. We can fully meet all the future requirements. But there are costs involved. Whether the customer would be willing to pay Rs 2 or 3 lakh more for a selective catalytic reduction (SCR)-equipped diesel in the MPV segment is a question mark,” said CV Raman to Autocar India.
In addition to the costs involved in upgrading to BS-VI in 2020, the introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing around 2023 will require SCR systems in many diesels, further raising their cost.
The uncertainty over affordability casts a shadow over the long-term future of diesels. Diesels accounted for 38 percent of the overall PVs sold in April-Oct 2018, down from 40 percent last year.
Although diesel customers accounted for nearly half of all first-gen Ertiga sales, the carmaker sees the scales tipping in favour of petrol and CNG on the new Ertiga.
“The first-gen Ertiga had almost 45 to 50 percent of diesel customers because of the Smart Hybrid tech, and also due to a substantial difference between petrol and diesel prices, which was almost Rs 30. Now, the difference is down to just Rs 8 or 9,” he said. Instead, Raman feels CNG would be a better bet. Maruti is expected to introduce Ertiga with a factory-fit CNG kit in less than six months. “That will become a more attractive proposition for the customers,” he added.
The carmaker has equipped the newly launched Ertiga MPV with a tried and tested but old-tech Fiat-sourced 90hp 1.3 diesel. The unit comes equipped with Maruti’s SHVS hybrid technology, which is claimed to aid fuel efficiency.
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