In the SUV sweepstakes, a petrol vs diesel face-off

The mid-range sports utility vehicle (SUV) space, the fastest growing segment in the country’s car market, is gearing up for a technological face-off. South Koreans currently dominate the space, with Hyundai Motor – India’s second largest carmaker – and their sister Kia Motor packing in a range of models running both diesel and petrol mills between them.

The Japanese counter, led by passenger vehicle (PV) market leaders Maruti Suzuki India and Toyota Motor, has focused on a petrol-only strategy, riding on petrol-powered engines with a fully hybrid system. The two new Suzuki-Toyota SUVs, both powered by petrol engines with hybrid drive units, promise higher power and significantly better fuel economy to stay in the fight with the diesel options offered by others.

Both the Maruti-Toyota SUVs – codenamed ‘D22’ for the Toyota variant and ‘YFG’ for the Suzuki variant – are likely to be blocked later this year and could take the diesel mileage that the South Korean duo, et al. The likes of domestic carmakers Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors and Europeans including Germany’s Volkswagen and France’s Renault enjoy Czech sister concern Skoda.
While the share of diesel engines in India’s PV segment has fallen from 60 per cent in FY14 to around 16 per cent, diesel options still account for 50 per cent of sales in the SUV segment, where Maruti Suzuki and Toyota intend to build their petrol-hybrids. Cancellation of diesel mileage availed by others along with Prasad.

The Japanese strategy focused on discontinuing the diesel option for this segment by overcoming the obvious advantages of the diesel mill through its focus on petrol engines combined with hybrid powertrains. What helps with this game plan is that as Toyota is a global leader in hybrid technology, Maruti Suzuki is expected to pitch in with its supplier base to increase localization and thus make hybrid offerings more cost-effective.

The localization effort is being seen as a counterweight to the tax relief on the hybrid, to which Toyota has so far been unsuccessful. There is also a condition that as the BS-VI emission norms become stricter, the price of diesel mill will also come down gradually.
Both the Japanese automakers are trying to bring down the hybrid from the expensive, more premium segment of the car market to bring down the prices.

For Maruti Suzuki, this comes at a time when its market share has declined to around 43 per cent in FY12, from around 48 per cent in FY2011, and over 50 per cent in the last two years. The plan to bring in multiple petrol-powered SUV products with hybrid powertrains to enhance fuel efficiency marks the beginning of a clear intention not to make a comeback in the diesel segment. The company is also looking to enhance its role in the CNG segment to bring in additional volumes. Incidentally, in the non-SUV segment, Maruti Suzuki has a market share of over 65 per cent, with leadership positions in both the hatchback and MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) segments. However, paucity of products in the fast growing SUV segment has affected its overall market share.

The extent of Maruti’s reversal is illustrated by the fact that its two primary offerings in the SUV segment – Vitara Brezza and S-Cross – were offered with diesel engines for more than four years in their launch, without a petrol option only. were done. , The automaker’s plan to move away from diesel came after the introduction of the new BS-VI emission norms two years ago and the company has ruled out coming back to the diesel segment as it feels that with the start of sales of such vehicles, more will decrease. In the next phase of emission norms in 2023 which will further increase the cost of diesel vehicles.

Incidentally, carmakers like Korean, along with their diesel push, are also relying on “engine downsizing” in the petrol segment, with a turbocharged petrol engine option between variants.

These engines use a turbine that is driven by the engine’s exhaust gas to subsequently force that additional compressed air into the combustion chamber, allowing more efficient combustion of the air-fuel mixture.

The result is that these smaller turbocharged engines generate more power than the larger engines, while consuming less fuel.

The primary difference between petrol and diesel engines is that petrol engines use spark plugs to ignite the air-fuel mixture, whereas diesel engines rely heavily on compressed air without any spark plugs.

Diesel engines are thus more efficient and use 15-20% less fuel at lower running costs, and also boast higher low-end torques that provide better driving experience with higher loads or inclines, thereby making them the primary option. For SUVs.

However, they usually cost more than petrol vehicles because diesel technology is more expensive and their servicing and maintenance costs are higher.

Hybrid systems typically consist of a petrol engine coupled to an electric motor and a NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) battery pack that enables the vehicle to run on pure electric mode for short distances. The battery pack is recharged by the engine or through regenerative braking. Cars with hybrid systems can only be driven on electric power for a stretch, using an internal combustion engine to top up the battery while driving. With this hybrid set-up, the powertrain can see a 40-80 percent jump in fuel efficiency compared to its non-electrified counterpart, eliminating the range concern typically associated with EVs. But it comes at a high price, given that they incorporate the electric motor and battery pack along with the combustion engine. This hybrid system being deployed by Maruti Suzuki-Toyota Combination will be similar to the recently unveiled Honda City E: HEV Hybrid or Toyota Camry, but will come at a lower price point.

Along with the hybrid powertrain partnership, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota are already working on a pure-play battery electric vehicle (EV). Maruti Suzuki’s parent Suzuki Motor Corp has said it will invest Rs 10,440 crore to build a new EV factory and battery facility in India.

Suzuki’s announcement marked the first concrete commitment by Maruti to electrification, which has ensured that the Indian car market is not yet ready for a massive shift towards BEVs (battery electric vehicles) and ancillary infrastructure like charging. development speed. The score is less than enough.

Tata Motors and Hyundai Motor lead the segment with strong plans to electrify their product offerings, at a time when passenger EVs have seen a sharp jump of over 50 per cent in sales in 2020-21, even though This is a relatively small base.

While Maruti Suzuki is treading cautiously on the EV track, it was expected that the EV variant of the WagonR would be the company’s first battery-electric model for India. A prototype of the WagonR EV was showcased in September 2018 and road testing of some 40-odd prototypes was also underway. But it seems that pricing has been a deciding factor in the WagonR EV project being put on the backburner.

Instead, an SUV is being produced in partnership with Toyota, which has a global partnership agreement with Suzuki, and the product is targeted to hit the markets three years from now. The vehicle is likely to be produced under both Suzuki and Toyota badging, with the Maruti Suzuki variant reported to be codenamed ‘YY8’.

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