The statement, earlier this year, that Maruti Suzuki will not be doing diesel engines post April 2020 created quite a stir. In a way, it also meant that others could either take this bull of an opportunity by the horns and get in their BS-VI powered diesels. Or, take a cue from India's largest car maker and stay away from diesels. It seems that most of the car makers are keen to pursue the diesel route as it still means sales of their vehicles. While the government wasn't earlier supportive of the fossil-fueled vehicles, it softened its stand basis meetings with officials from the auto industry. So, the question still remains. Why isn't BS-VI diesels on Maruti's agenda? We caught up with CV Raman, senior executive director (Engineering) on the sidelines of the Maruti XL6 launch to clear this up.
Raman says that at the moment MSIL is waiting and watching market conditions to introduce a BS-VI diesel. There will be others who will have BS-VI diesel products in the market soon. This will give MSIL a better understanding of the BS-VI diesel market and the price equation change vis-a-vis BS-VI petrols. RC Bhargava, the current chairman of MSIL had said that the conversion cost from BS-IV to BS-VI for small diesels may go up to Rs 2 lakh. Raman in the meanwhile says that they have the technology available and from an engineering point of view, everything is doable. Right now the talk is about BS-VI, however come 2023, the focus will be on Real Driving Emissions or RDE. This will mean that a car will have to have the same emissions throughout its life as it first had on the testing bed. This will involve another round of significant investment as well as manpower. The technology will then have to shift to Selective Catalytic Reduction of particulate matter.
From what Express Drives understands, Maruti as well as its dealers have been vocal that the Fiat-borrowed 1.3-litre diesel will not make it past the stringent emission norms. It has got more to do with the Fiat license. The Italian company hasn't updated this motor and thereby Maruti cannot tinker with it, as per the agreement. This prompted Maruti to get in its in-house developed 1.5-litre diesel earlier this year. This engine can be made ready for BS-VI compliance, if there is a market demand.
As an engineering firm, Maruti says that all its petrol engines will be BS-VI compliant. Any powertrain can be made compatible. For example, the Alto 800 uses an updated version engine of the old Maruti 800. However, it is now BS-VI compliant. The Alto 800 had to go through a lot of powertrain changes to comply with BS-VI norms. Its not just the after treatment. There is no need to phase out an engine but then it has to be upgraded from time to time. However, Raman chips in that the investment is in manpower and after treatment. This includes calibration as well as vehicle validation tests both on road and chassis dynamometer. The after treatments of different capacity BS-VI petrol engines will differ say from Rs 5,000 to 13,000. For a diesel engine though it will be higher.