Kia Motors is readying the production version of the India-spec SP Concept SUV for launch in around August 2019 – just a few months ahead of the April 2020 deadline for BS-VI norms. This means the Korean carmaker has to decide to either launch the SUV with a BS-VI-ready engine or upgrade the unit to meet the norms when the deadline kicks in.
It is likely that Kia will choose to introduce the SUV with BS-IV engines initially in an effort to price it competitively with existing BS-IV rivals. The high cost involved in upgrading to a BS-VI-compliant diesel motor could make the SP more expensive than its peers – a situation that Kia wants to avoid in a price-sensitive Indian market.
"There are pros and cons in both the scenarios...so yes, we can do it (upgrade to BS-VI engines) later also," Manohar Bhat, head of marketing and sales, Kia Motors India told Autocar India recently. He added that the BS-VI petrol engine will be pricier than a BS-IV unit, with the price difference for diesel engines being more significant. According to estimates, the price gap between a petrol and diesel car is expected to surge by Rs 1.5 lakh above the Rs 1 lakh it is currently at.
The production-spec SP Concept will launch with the 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines and will be priced in the Rs 10-16 lakh (ex-showroom) bracket.
SAIC-owned MG Motor India was also faced with this dilemma with its Hector SUV being prepared for a May 2019 launch. However, unlike Kia, the carmaker has decided to have a BS-VI-compliant engine line from the start.
India is leapfrogging to BS-VI (Euro-VI) norms from BS-IV (Euro-IV) which requires a vehicle to have additional hardware such as DPF (diesel particulate filter), SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and LNT (Lean NOx trap) in an effort to control PM (particulate matter) and NOx simultaneously.
Moreover, the Supreme Court's verdict is that only BS-VI-compliant vehicles will be sold in the country starting April 1, 2020, and no grace period will be granted to automakers selling old stocks – which threw a spanner in the works, leaving carmakers with a tight deadline.