The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki may be a late entrant to the diesel segment but is now playing catch-up. The automaker is working on rolling out a new 800cc diesel engine, which along with the recently-launched Celerio will also power its compact car Wagon-R. The move is expected to bring incremental volumes for the company and help it maintain a headstart in volume and market share as its Japanese rival Nissan is likely to make rapid inroads with its Datsun brand.
According to sources, the recently-launched Celerio will be the first car to have a smaller diesel engine fitted on it, followed by Wagon-R. Both models currently come with a 998 cc, 3-cylinder engine delivering a power of 67 bhp and a torque of 9.1 kgm. The company neither confirmed nor denied the development. “Maruti Suzuki does not give guidance or comments on future models or technologies,” said a Maruti Suzuki spokesperson in an email response.
The carmaker is, however committed towards ramping up its diesel engine presence. “We have to take, a medium to long-term view on fuel options and we are convinced that even if there is a withdrawal of subsidy on diesel, it will remain a promising fuel for the auto industry,” said KD Singh, vice-president, corporate, Maruti Suzuki in an analyst call in late April this year.
The carmaker is known to be setting up a new diesel engine production line with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore at its Gurgaon plant that will have a capacity of 1.5 lakh units a year. The production line will help the carmaker deliver its new series of self-developed diesel engines, making a debut with the 800cc diesel engine in the initial phase. At present, the carmaker has a total capacity of 4.5 lakh diesel engines on an annual basis.
“Maruti will be able to offer a unique value proposition with the introduction of diesel engine powered Wagon-R. It will be a strong differentiator against competitors and help sustain volumes. The carmaker could see a volume boost of as much as 15% for Wagon-R with the inclusion of diesel-powered engines in the space,” said Puneet Gupta, associate director, IHS Automotive.
In the mini compact space the carmaker sold 47,618 vehicles in June, which is a rise of 52% compared with the year-ago period.
“Having a diesel engine will further improve Maruti’s volume and market share in the small car space.