Diesel Versions Beat Petrol Cousins In Sales Race

New Delhi, April 26 | Updated: Apr 27 2004, 05:30am hrs
Diesel cars are steadily increasing their market share, accounting for 18-20 of the total car sales in the year ended March 2004.

In the A2 segment (compact cars Zen, Indica, Palio), they command a market share of 23 per cent. The figures are even better in the A3 to A6 segments (including mid-size, luxury and premium cars) where 32 per cent of the cars sold were diesel powered.

This trend of growing sales of diesel cars is in tandem with some of the world markets too with diesel car sales occupying 60 per cent of the market in Belgium, 33 per cent in the UK, 40 per cent in Europe as a whole, though in the US market, diesel cars are still just at 10 per cent of the total market.

Understandably, car companies in India are readying plans to invest in future diesel technology to power vehicles, which has already changed the fortunes for some manufacturers.

Such is the preference for diesel that for Tata Motors, about 85 per cent of all Indica sold are diesel and for its mid-size car Indigo, its nearly 80 per cent. For Fiat India, the sales of the Palio diesel are about 50 per cent of the total, a company spokesperson said.

Market leader Maruti Udyog, which has been facing constraints on diesel engines sourcing from French manufacturer Peugeot, is now setting up a plant to manufacture diesel engines. We want to acquire a licence to manufacture diesel engines locally and hope to finalise it this year. We are in talks with three to four companies, a company official told FE. At present, about 900-odd diesel Zen are sold, which is about 10 per cent of the total Zen sales. In diesel cars, the compact car segment is the most attractive for auto companies because of the high volumes it generates.

For Korean manufacturer Hyundai Motor India, which is sourcing the CRDi (common rail direct injection) engine technology from Detroit Diesel Corp, diesel accounts for about 20 per cent of its total sales. Its midsize car Accent, sports utility vehicle Terracan and the recently launched sedan Elantra all sport CRDi engines. Much of the popularity of diesel in India is due to the price differential bet-ween petrol and diesel. The diesel technology is poised for a change with the Euro III emission norms, which will come into effect next year. Advanced fuel injection systems are believed to be key to the future of diesel in both light and heavy-duty vehicles and will be instrumental in engineering engines to comply with future emissions regulations.

Modern fuel injection systems are one of the main reasons the diesel-engine vehicle market has grown rapidly worldwide, mainly Europe, with two predominant types; high-pressure electronically controlled unit injectors and the common rail system.