India’s largest carmaker will stop selling diesel cars from April 2020

Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave
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India’s largest carmaker will have sold its last diesel car by the end of this financial year.

“From April 1, 2020, we will have no diesel car on sale,” Maruti Suzuki chairman R C Bhargava said yesterday (April 25). “Depending on how customers react… if we find there is a market for diesel cars (after the new emission norms kick in) we will develop it in a reasonable amount of time.”

Maruti Suzuki has diesel versions for seven of its models: Swift, Dzire, Vitara Brezza, Baleno, Ertiga, Ciaz, and S-cross.

The decision to stop making them comes at a time when India is set to implement new emission norms that could make them substantially dearer.

In 2016, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government decided to leapfrog the country’s emissions standards from stage IV to stage VI. Bharat Stage VI (BS VI), which will be enforced from 2020, involves heavy upgrades in diesel car technology to curb the emission of nitrogen oxides.

The Indian auto industry, including Maruti, had opposed the move. “An estimated increase of Rs1 lakh ($1,425) for diesel cars and Rs20,000 for petrol cars is expected with the switch to BS-VI,” Bhargava had said.

The company’s decision comes amidst muted earnings for financial year 2019 and a bleak growth forecast, which Bhargava blamed on “a downturn in the overall industry, uncertainty over petrol prices, and a shift to the BS VI model.”

Maruti is now betting on cars fuelled by the less-polluting compressed natural gas (CNG), favoured by the government. In 2020, the market leader also plans to launch its first electric car, a modified version of its popular hatchback, Wagon R.

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