Maruti Suzuki announced its decision to go petrol-only in the Indian market from 1st April, 2020. A move that the company says was a result of rising demand for petrol vehicles and the high costs involved in developing BS6 compliant diesel engines. The move also coaxed the company to finally discontinue the iconic 1.3-litre DDiS diesel motor that was sourced from Fiat (FCA Group), while also putting a stop on the 1.5-litre diesel that was developed in-house by Suzuki for the Indian market. It is the latter’s discontinuation that’s surprised many as the engine was only introduced in 2018, finding its way into Maruti cars last year for a brief period. With the automaker’s gasoline power strategy, can this diesel engine actually find a bay? The answer might be lying under the hood of another Japanese automaker.
No surprises for guessing, it is Toyota that we are talking about. While Maruti Suzuki has no plans to introduce diesels as of now, Toyota will continue making them going forward. The latter manufacturer has already announced its transition to BS6 compliance having upgraded the large-capacity diesel engines that power the Toyota Fortuner and the Innova Crysta. The company will discontinue the Etios series and the Toyota Corolla Altis by the end of this month and along with it the 1.4-litre D4-D diesel engine that powered the cars. Instead of abandoning that segment altogether, the company could tap into the potential of the Suzuki engines bin and look at the 1.5-litre oil burner for its future small car range.
Of course, it helps that Toyota’s mass-market offerings in the future will be manufactured by Suzuki. This includes the Vitara Brezza-based SUV and an Ertiga-based MPV among other offerings. Both cars are currently offered with the new 1.5-litre petrol engine with SHVS mild hybrid technology. However, the segment does have a demand for diesel engines and Toyota could tap into that potential, thereby creating a different target audience over Suzuki in the same segment.
This does depend on whether Suzuki did come around upgrading the 1.5 diesel to BS6 norms, which we know is in progress through many rumors of re-launch of this diesel engine in 2021. Some Maruti official are hinting at the same and a clear statement which said, “If there is demand, we will get it back”. The newly developed engine was created to be future-ready and hence, a replacement to the ageing 1.3-litre motor. The top reason why Brezza and Ertiga are slotted for 2021 launch and not earlier hints at this development.
But given the costs involved upgrading engines to BS6 tech, Suzuki did decide against plonking it on their cars. The partnership could see Toyota having more use for them. Given the costs involved though, expect the future Toyota 1.5 diesel cars to see a significantly hike in prices over the petrol versions as usual. However, this will give cost efficiency to Suzuki to make this engine as Toyota will use the same and pay for it. Wow, tides turned. From Maruti buying engines from Fiat, Toyota could use the diesel engine that Maruti made.
Look at it at other way. Small capacity diesel is necessary in the Japanese car manufacturers range. Toyota’s BS6 diesel line-up starts with the Innova that is priced from about Rs. 15 lakh (ex-showroom) onwards. A smaller diesel will help the brand position its diesel range from under Rs. 10 lakh, while tapping into the high-volume compact SUV and MPV segment. Could the Toyota Glanza also get the options of a diesel?
Why not! if the Baleno will end up getting one sooner or later. Not in the short term at least, considering the premium hatchback segment is dominated by petrol power with over 60 per cent of the bookings for the gasoline powered versions. Next generation Baleno and Glanza could opt for it easily, which seems to fit in this timeline perfectly. Also, since you do continue to get diesel options with the Hyundai i20, Tata Altroz and the Honda Jazz. Maruti and Toyota will have to come in sooner or later.
The Suzuki-Toyota partnership was announced in 2017 and extends to product sharing and future vehicle development. With Suzuki’s partnership, Toyota plans to finally tap into the highly competitive sub Rs. 10 lakh segment with more volume-friendly products while Suzuki aims to move in the premium end of the car market with Toyota cars. The first product of this alliance was the Toyota Glanza that arrived in 2019 and is a re-badged Maruti Suzuki Baleno wearing the crown logo. There are a host of other cars that will be shared by either automaker as part of the re-badging exercise aforementioned earlier and here’s where the new 1.5-litre diesel engine could finally find purpose.