Honda and Toyota plan to develop diesel engines for their passenger cars even as rivals like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai spend more on building and marketing diesel cars to keep pace with demand.
Honda, which has only petrol cars in India, is developing a small diesel engine for the Indian market, while Toyota will soon roll out a diesel version of Corolla Altis, making it its first diesel-driven passenger car in India.
“We feel the need to develop a diesel engine,” said Jnaneswar Sen, vice president (marketing), Honda Siel. He pointed out that more than half the vehicles sold in Europe are diesel. The company is yet to decide the timeline for the launch and which cars it will power.
Toyota, which sells only diesel versions of its utility vehicles and SUVs such as Innova and Fortuner in the country, has 90 per cent of sales coming from diesel cars. “While diesel is cleaner advanced technology, gasoline will also be important for us,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy MD (sales and marketing) of Toyota Kirloskar Motors.
Maruti Suzuki, which sells 60 per cent of its popular Swift, Dzire and Ritz cars in diesel versions, plans to roll out smaller diesel cars, using Fiat’s 700cc engine. Three out of every four cars that Maruti Suzuki sells is petrol-driven. Maruti, which sources diesel engines from Italian carmaker Fiat, also plans to get 1.6 litre and 2 litre engines. Its main rival Hyundai Motor is considering making diesel engines.
Currently Hyundai’s i20, Getz, Verna and Sonata have diesel options. But the proportion of diesel sales has been going up steadily from 15 per cent in 2006 to 25 per cent in 2009, thanks to superior technology and fuel efficiency that modern diesel engines offer. Many customers prefer diesel versions because of better fuel efficiency that makes up for the premium they pay.