US automaker Ford will continue to sell diesel models in India and has no plans to pull the plug on such vehicles, a senior company official Tuesday said. The automaker, which sells models like EcoSport and Endeavour in the country through a wholly-owned subsidiary, said it would also be ready with BS VI-compliant diesel powertrains for its model range before the April 1, 2020 deadline.
"We will continue to offer the power of choice to consumers and will not stop diesel models. Ford will also be fully ready with its range of BS-VI compliant diesel powertrains ahead of April 2020 implementation," Ford India Executive Director, Marketing, Sales and Service Vinay Raina told PTI. This shows the company's commitment in offering what consumers want, he added.
With diesel cars set to become costlier from next year with the implementation of stricter BS-VI emission norms, major automakers in India are contemplating about the future of such vehicles in their portfolios. Already, the country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) has announced to phase out all diesel models by April 1, 2020. The company says the increase in cost would put most of the diesel cars, especially the smaller ones, out of reach of small car buyers in the country. Raina, however, said historically consumers for utility vehicles (UVs) have preferred diesel powertrains.
"For instance - Over 65 per cent of the consumers, today buy EcoSport diesel variants compared to petrol. Despite government lifting subsidies on diesel over the years, we have seen the demand for diesel stay and expect the same to continue in 2020 and beyond," he noted. He said with the implementation of BS-VI norms, the company expected the prices of passenger vehicles in the industry to increase by up to 8-10 per cent. However, the price increase coming into effect due to BS-VI norms will be across vehicle segments, not just diesel vehicles, he added.
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"Ford has launched its first CNG vehicle (Aspire) to support any possible shift from diesel in the time to come," Raina said. He added that the company would also continue to bring in petrol versions of the models to complement diesel cars.
"Ford - with the introduction of EcoSport in 2013 - was among the first to bring petrol engines into the consideration set of UV buyers. To complement the diesel technology, we will continue to deepen the portfolio of petrol engines and offer more BS-VI compliant petrol engines options to our consumers," Raina said.
With the company turning profitable in India last year, after more than two decades of presence in the country, it is now in a better position to invest more in upgradation of technology. Earlier this month, Ford inked a definitive agreement with Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) to co-develop a mid-sized SUV for India and other emerging markets. The new agreement reinforces the steady progress made since the announcement of a strategic alliance between the two companies in September 2017, followed by an announcement on powertrain sharing and connected car solutions in October 2018.
The new mid-sized sports utility vehicle (C-SUV) will have a common Mahindra product platform and powertrain, thus driving engineering and commercial efficiencies. Ford has already signed an agreement with Mahindra Group to develop and supply a low-displacement petrol engine for use in Ford's present and future vehicles, beginning in 2020. Both companies are also jointly developing a telematics control unit.