A new report from Mint says that Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest-selling carmaker with a market share of 50.4 per cent in January 2019, could introduce Petrol-CNG variants of the Swift and the Dzire. The new fuel variants would be a part of the company's effort to find a low-cost alternative to the unrealistically costly BSVI diesel engines for its sub-4 metre cars.
Reportedly, Suzuki Motor Corp. has even asked dealerships to bid for licences to set up CNG-dispensing fuel stations. The introduction of additional CNG stations should bolster the company's plan of selling about 2,00,000 CNG passenger cars annually by 2022. The carmaker's CNG model onslaught is expected to commence with the launch of the Compressed Natural Gas-powered Ertiga by April this year.
It may be noted here that the price gap between petrol and diesel engine variants of all car models is expected to substantially widen with the introduction of BSVI-compliant oil-burners by 1 April 2020. This will be due to the costlier exhaust system that will be required to upgrade the current powerplants. The increased cost of diesel-powered cars should act as a catalyst for the adoption of petrol-CNG dual-fuel powertrains in small cars.
Speaking on Maruti's plans of the introduction of CNG-powered models, Puneet Gupta, associate director-vehicle sales forecasting at IHS Markit, has said -
“CNG vehicles will be beneficial in the short term and Maruti being the largest manufacturer with products in the portfolio will create an ecosystem with the help of other stakeholders. Since the vision of the government is also to build a huge network of CNG pumps across the country, Maruti’s plans seem to be in sync with the government."
In line with the more stringent norms, which require cars to become at least 30 per cent more fuel efficient by 2022, Maruti Suzuki has increased its efforts on early adoption of full-hybrid powertrains. The company will bank on its partnership with Toyota for the development of full hybrid systems that will be tailor-made for the local conditions. That said, hybrid and electric technology will be too expensive for the sub-4m class of vehicles, and it is imperative for the manufacturer to release CNG versions of models like the Swift and the Dzire to compensate for the discontinuation of diesel variants by April 2020.