New Delhi: Honda will stop offering the diesel option in its Indian lineup from early next year. Honda currently has four diesel models on sale in India; these include the City, Amaze, Jazz and WR-V.
Honda says goodbye to diesel engines in India
Ahead of the implementation of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) norms in India from April 2023, the Japanese automaker will stop production of its 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine, which is currently offered in the Amaze, City (fifth generation) as well as the WR-V crossover.
The new RDE standards, which require major investment in diesel engines to be retrofitted to meet new stringent emissions regulations, have resulted in several diesel models across brands being grouped together. For example, the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios and compact sedan Aura quietly ditched the diesel offering earlier this year, while the premium hatchback i20 is lined up next door to lose the option.
Customers in India can still buy diesel Hondas until the end of March 2023, but the company plans to deplete its diesel stock in showrooms across the country before stricter emission norms come into effect, exactly three years after BS VI emission norms were mandated. from April 1, 2020.
Honda Cars India has already discontinued the diesel Jazz, WR-V and also select variants of the Amaze compact sedan. In addition, the automaker is phasing out the current generation Jazz, WR-V and City (fourth generation) as these three models are nearing the end of their life cycle. The rest of the portfolio will see end-of-life diesel variants between December 2022 and February 2023.
Autocar Professional reports that after the implementation of BS VI emission norms in April 2020, 21 percent of Honda’s total car sales came from the 1.5-litre diesel engine. However, this share further declined to just 7 percent of total sales due to a shift in customer preference towards gasoline-powered cars. HCIL has registered sales of about 30,000 to 35,000 units of diesel vehicles between CY2020 and CY2022.
Honda introduced the 1.5-litre diesel engine – christened ‘i-DTEC’ – in India in 2013 with the launch of the first generation Amaze compact sedan. The company says that the BS VI compliant engine has a certified fuel consumption of 24.7 kpl in the manual variant of the Amaze, while it delivers 24.1 kpl in the larger City sedan. In the WR-V crossover, this 1.5 diesel power unit provides a certified fuel consumption of 23.7 kpl.
Complete stoppage of Honda diesel engines made in India
Apart from stopping production of the 1.5-litre diesel, sources revealed that HCIL will stop manufacturing and exporting the 1.6-litre diesel engine from March 2023. India currently exports this 1.6-litre power unit to Thailand for use in the Honda CR-V in overseas markets, including Thailand and the Philippines.
It is learned that HCIL’s suppliers have been informed well in advance of this planned phasing out of these diesel engines and the company will stop manufacturing them at its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan.
Abandoning diesel in line with the global trend
Honda’s decision to eliminate diesel from its portfolio can be understood as being in line with overall market trends. Over the past few years, leading automakers in India and overseas have already exited or outlined plans to exit the diesel segment, especially in the small displacement (sub-2 liter) category, where the technology cost of meeting even stricter emission norms is relatively high.
Over the past ten years, the share of diesel vehicles in India has fallen sharply from a peak of 54 percent to 20 percent, and the shift accelerated after the implementation of BS VI Phase-I emission norms. Diesel’s contribution to hatchbacks and sedans has all but disappeared, with SUVs now accounting for the lion’s share of demand.
While the likes of Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors continue to offer a diesel alternative in the compact and mid-size SUV segment, the Japanese OEM brigade has given up on diesel and is instead focusing on hybrid drive technology.
More stringent criteria with RDE standards
The upcoming RDE norms will mandate OEMs to meet emission targets, particularly those set for particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the BS VI guidelines, now in a real-life scenario rather than just an engine test. bench. This would in effect require a near-optimal emission performance in different geographical scenarios across India.
Industry experts say this would require the implementation of technologies such as Selective Catalytic Reduction or SCR (Additional NOx Reduction), which is currently used in high-displacement engines and will prove to be extremely cost-prohibitive, especially for diesel engines up to 1500cc.
However, Honda will continue to focus on its renowned i-VTEC petrol engine technology with the 1.2L and 1.5L naturally aspirated petrol engines powering the Amaze and City models in India. It will also focus on the newly introduced powerful hybrid drive in the City e:HEV.
Honda, meanwhile, is working to launch an all-new SUV in the Indian market around mid-2023 to regain its market share, which has seen a significant decline in the past few years due to lack of a strong SUV product portfolio.
diesel engines productionThe new mid-size SUV will come with both petrol and powerful hybrid powertrains. Honda is hoping hybrid technology will make up for its departure from diesel, although it remains to be seen how competitive the 1.5-litre hybrid can be priced (which is expensive in the city).
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