This week in Auto: Maruti to switch off diesel engines, Yamaha to revamp India play


Maruti Suzuki will phase out all models with diesel engines less than 1.5 litres in view of the Bharat Stage VI emission norms kicking in from April 1, 2020.

Amidst the noise of new model launches, what started in hushed tones at a press conference of India’s largest carmaker became the dominating noise of the week. Maruti Suzuki became the first company to declare a pull-out from diesel engines and it will do so in less than 12 months.

This is the story of the week. Read on to know what else made it to the headlines in the automotive space this week.

Yamaha set to revamp India play

Yamaha Motor Corporation is rebuilding its India growth story through new product launches and possible alliances, which it hopes will push sales by at least half.

The Japanese two-wheeler brand is desperate to revamp its presence in India given its lacklustre performance during the past several years.

Triumph launches Speed Twin in India

Triumph had just revived the Speed Twin name for the motorcycling world, and the company has now decided to bring it to India too. The name itself holds weight for the company as it was the original 1938 that set the Triumph on the revival path after the World War II.

In terms of design, the bike incorporates the modern-retro styling that seems to be the rage these days. Body panels are at a minimum with the tank and the seat, harking back to days of yore while the 17-inch alloy rims and the disc brakes speak a more modern language.

Maruti drives in new Alto

Maruti Suzuki launched a new version of its entry-level hatchback Alto 800, priced between Rs 2.93 lakh and Rs 3.71 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The model, which has been the country’s best selling model for 15 consecutive years, now comes with BS-VI emission norms compliant petrol engine, additional safety features and new design. Therefore, the price of the model has gone up by at least Rs 30,000 in Delhi as compared with the outgoing version.

BMW launches Grand Turismo 620d

German luxury car maker BMW launched the 620d Gran Turismo in India. It is the first time it has entered the Indian market and BMW claims it will further diversify the model’s diesel lineup.

It is powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder engine which makes 190 bhp of maximum power and 400 Nm of peak torque. It has a claimed acceleration from 0-100 km/h in just 7.9 seconds. The engine is mated to an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, while Cruise Control is offered as standard.

Honda launches CBR650R at Rs 7.7 lakh

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) on April 22 said it has launched a new sports bike CBR650R in the country, priced at Rs 7.7 lakh (ex-showroom).

The bike, which comes with a 649-cc liquid cooled four-cylinder engine, replaces CBR650F under Honda’s sports middle weight line up.

Maruti Suzuki says good bye to diesel

Shoppers have less than a year to choose a diesel-powered hatchback from Maruti Suzuki as the company will bring down the curtains on them starting next fiscal.

The car market leader will phase out all models with diesel engines less than 1.5 litres in view of the Bharat Stage VI emission norms kicking in from April 1, 2020. It aims to replace the costly diesel engines with equally efficient petrol, CNG and very soon hybrid options.

For many, the decision to withdraw almost totally might have come as a shocker, but the writing was clearly on the wall. A couple of years ago Maruti discontinued the diesel version of the Celerio whose engine was developed in-house.

At that time of its phase out around 80 percent of Celerio sales were arising from the petrol variants. Maruti said that 77 percent of its sales during the January-March quarter came from petrol models. This is very close to the Celerio benchmark beyond which the company considers it to be a loss-making proposition to continue with diesels.

After April 1, 2020, the official date for the onset of Bharat Stage VI emission standard, Maruti Suzuki expects an increase of Rs 1.5 lakh in diesel vehicle prices. The gap between petrol and diesel variants on most models today is around Rs 1 lakh. Under BS-VI this gap will increase to Rs 2.5 lakh.

Maruti believes that this increase is enough to discourage buyers going for small diesel cars whose buyers sensitive to price fluctuations.

But Maruti’s rivals do not appear to be in such a tearing rush to follow suit. Hyundai which is preparing to launch the Venue unveiled the compact SUV with a diesel engine option. Though the Venue will be launched with a BS-IV engine range on May 21 the company has promised to launch BS-VI upgrades of them later.

Tata Motors launched the Harrier SUV a few months ago only with a diesel engine. In February, Honda re-launched the Civic in India with a diesel engine option. Mahindra and Mahindra, the SUV specialist launched the XUV300 and Marazzo with diesel engines. Nissan launched the SUV Kicks with a diesel option.

These all-new model launches have happened in the past nine months. In many instances the diesel engines are completely new, never seen before on Indian roads. This means manufacturers have invested in them over the years taking into account that demand will follow.

But with Maruti Suzuki, which controls half of the Indian passenger vehicle market, doing an about-turn on diesel will its rivals fall in line or will they end up making the most of the absence of the market leader?



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