The current Indian passenger vehicle buyers generally show interest in petrol cars, while the scenario was different earlier. Even a few years ago too, passenger vehicle buyers were inclined towards diesel cars. During 2012, diesel cars used to contribute 60% of total passenger vehicle sales, which led the automobile brands like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Mahindra, Tata Motors, Honda etc to invest heavily in diesel technologies.
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However, with time, customers preferences have evolved. Witnessing the emergence of an anti-diesel vibe and stricter emission norms, automakers too are focusing on bringing in petrol cars instead of diesel models. In 2020, petrol cars contributed more than 82% of total PV sales, while around 16% of the sales volume were attributed to diesel models. The rest of the percentage was shared by CNG, electric vehicles etc.
India's largest car brand Maruti Suzuki is one of the carmakers that have opted for a pro-petrol strategy. The car brand had announced a few years back that it will focus only on petrol, hybrid and electric cars and discontinued the diesel variants afterwards. However, as it seems, homegrown automaker Tata Motors quickly came up to fill this vacuum created by Maruti Suzuki's decision to discontinue diesel models.
Tata Motors decided to continue with diesel engine models. As a result, even in FY2021, when the Coronavirus pandemic ravaged the automobile industry, Tata Motors has shown the silver lining in the revival of PV sales. Besides the arrival of new models like Nexon, Tiago, Tigor, Altroz, Harrier and Safari, the diesel variants of these cars too helped the automaker to witness a revival in sales.
Back in the FY2013, Tata Motors registered 222,212 units of PV sales, while the automaker posted 222,011 units of sales in the last financial year, with 16% of that attributed to diesel models. The last time, it crossed the 2 lakh sales milestone in a fiscal was FY2019, before the Covid pandemic.
Among the four models sold by Tata Motors with diesel variants - Altroz, Nexon, Harrier and Safari; that altogether sold 143,021 units in the last financial year, 28.45% of the total volume was contributed by diesel models.
The auto company claimed that it has registered the eight-year highest number on the back of the strong consumer demand. The automaker also claimed that the new range of cars has propelled the car brand's sales to nearly double the pre-pandemic volumes at a consistent rate of more than 20,000 units sold every month. Besides the new range of cars, Tata Motors also credits the diesel models for this sales performance.
Clearly, what was Maruti Suzuki's loss, became the gain of Tata Motors.