With its own diesel engine family still under development and the need felt for more powerful engines for upcoming SUV models, Maruti Suzuki now plans to import Fiat's 1.6-litre 'multijet' diesel engine from Italy starting next year, sources told FE.
To be first offered with the new SX4 Crossover (CUV) when it is launched in early-2015, the new diesel engine will help the car market leader be more competitive especially in the entry utility vehicle (UV) segment where diesel engines account for over 80% of sales and rivals like Ford and Honda already have larger and more powerful engines available.
“The upcoming SX4 crossover, which has already been launched in Europe, will be available with both a 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines in India. The first is already made here, so the plan is to initially import the 1.6-litre diesel engine from Fiat and if the volumes are significantly high, then locally manufacture it afterwards depending on the licence agreement with Fiat. This engine will later be introduced in other sedans and UVs as well,” a source close to the development said. Incidentally, parent Suzuki already sources the same 1.6-litre diesel engine for the SX4 S-Cross model made its European plant in Hungary.
When asked about plans to import engines, a Maruti spokesperson said over email. “We will not comment on product plans”. However, expanding diesel engine options for new models is critical for Maruti since it expects the share of diesel cars to settle at 50% of new car sales. “Our share of diesel cars is low – for the industry it is 53%, while for us it is 30%. So we are still reacting to increased demand for diesel cars,” Mayank Pareek Maruti's COO for sales and marketing said recently after announcing the July-September quarter results.
Currently Maruti only has just one diesel engine in its menu, another Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre unit available in two states of tune, a 90-PS version used in the Ertiga and SX4, and a 75-PS version for the Swift and Ritz. Maruti's own diesel engines are also under development both at its technical center and at