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Petrol is slowly becoming the choice of fuel for utility vehicles because of the uncertainty surround diesel. Petrol vehicles accounted for 17 per cent of total utility vehicle sales through the last financial year. It stood at just 2 per cent back in 2011-12.
According to Economic Times, utility vehicles featuring diesel engines have always been in high demand and have dominated the UV segments. There are two major reasons — the sheer power the engine offers, and fuel economy. However, recent decision that have limited the use of diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR regions to 10 years because of pollution concerns have triggered a move towards petrol models.
Another concern is the price difference between petrol and diesel as fuels. The difference in price has come down from its peak of Rs 26 during 2012, to Rs 8 as of today.
R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki, said, "A SUV does not have to be diesel to give the kind of performance you want. In United States, SUVs, even trucks run mostly on gasoline. If we extrapolate from what has happened in Europe (fall in sale of diesel vehicles) post implementation of Euro VI and from the fact that India is a price sensitive market, we feel petrol is likely to be the more popular choice going ahead, particularly in the compact SUV segment."
Vikas Jain, National Sales Head, Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) said "The ban on larger diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region (NCR) three years back triggered sales of petrol-powered SUVs. That coupled with the fact that the price differential between the two fuels have been closing in, the ban on use of diesel vehicles for more than 10 years have made consumers reconsider the value of diesel vehicles."
Veejay Nakra, Chief of Sales and Marketing, Automotive Division, M&M, said, "The growth of Gasoline fuel in UVs is primarily attributed to the exponential growth of the Compact SUV segment. Compact SUVs, which are smaller in size, lighter in weight, & more efficient, are well suited for this type of fuel. However, larger & heavier SUVs that offer different driving dynamics such as extra power and torque are better served by Diesel fuel. Therefore, as compact SUVs comprise an increasingly larger share of overall UV segment (upwards of 50%) in recent years, we are seeing more & more proliferation of Petrol UVs. Also, as consumers upgrade from small or mid cars to SUVs, they are more accustomed to Petrol as a fuel type, so they continue to opt for Petrol over Diesel in an increasingly number of cases."
45 per cant of sales for Honda WR-V came from petrol versions, the proportion of sales from petrol power-trains for Honda BR-V and Ford EcoSport stood at 64 per cent and 35 per cent respectively. Ford was the first to bring in petrol engines with the EcoSport.
V G Ramakrishna, a managing partner at Avanteum Partners LLP feels that with the price set to increase post the introduction of the BS-VI norms, only diesel engines over the 2-litre capacity will make sense. He said that petrol engines would be more viable at the entry level.
Thoughts About The Petrol SUVs Becoming More Relevant
There is sense in what industry big-shots says. Diesel used to be a whole let cheaper than it is today. Additionally it makes no sense for manufacturers to retail expensive cars at the entry level, SUVs or otherwise. Hopefully the government keeps the lot of sane and reduces petrol prices — a debate that has been going on for a while now. Petrol is the new diesel.