Over 40 diesel cars, SUVs to go off-road this April

Diesel versions of over 40 cars and SUVs will be phased out from the market as companies shift their focus completely to petrol models and cleaner CNG and electric versions, with the onset of the BS6 emission norms era.

The move comes at a time when dealerships are stretched due to closures related to the coronavirus outbreak, and there is not much hope to clear the idle BS4 inventory by the March 31 deadline after the national lockdown was ordered. The petition of dealers and some companies to give them more time to dispose of the BS4 inventory has already been dealt with by the Supreme Court, and they have been given permission to only sell 10% of the pending stock.

Many companies have decided to move out diesel versions from their line-up as they would have required heavy investments to upgrade to the stricter emission standard and thus would become highly expensive for consumers. The diesel models to move out include popular ones such as Maruti’s Brezza mini SUV and Dzire entry sedan, Renault’s Duster, Skoda’s Octavia, Maruti’s Swift, Volkswagen’s Polo and Audi’s Q3 and Q5 SUVs.

“Of the 86 diesel models currently selling in the country, a total of 42 will be discontinued, including seven from Maruti,” Shashank Srivastava, director (marketing & sales) at the country’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki told TOI.

Justifying the move, companies said higher upgrade costs would mean that consumers will no longer be open to buying diesel. The theory gains more strength as the gap between the fuel prices of petrol and diesel has come down significantly, taking some of the sheens off the diesel variants. Also, with diesel vehicles carrying a life-span of 10 years against 15 years for petrol models in markets such as Delhi-NCR, many consumers tend to opt for the latter.

Maruti was among the first ones to announce their intention to move out of the diesel segment around one year ago. “In small cars, the cost of upgrading diesel engines to BS6 standards will be substantial. With the price increase, these vehicles will become unviable for customers. We will completely stop selling diesel vehicles from April next year,” Maruti chairman R C Bhargava had said.

Maruti’s move has been followed by others such as Renault, Nissan, Volkswagen, Skoda, and Audi, even though many others are yet to give up on diesel. Those still betting on diesel include Hyundai and group company Kia, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Toyota, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz. Srivastava said the share of diesel will progressively come down as buyers are increasingly opting for petrols, even in the SUV segment where diesel had held a strong sway. The trend gets clearer when one looks at the falling share of diesels in SUVs, hatchbacks, and sedans.

News Source: The Economic Times: URL: https://bit.ly/2JreXZ2

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