India File

BS-VI-ready auto industry gets corona fever

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on March 24, 2020 Published on March 24, 2020

There are just a few days to go before the registration of new BS-IV vehicles is phased out.

Prior to the production shutdown announced in the wake of coronavirus (Covid-19), automobile companies seemed prepared for a smooth transition to BS VI from March 31. The new BS VI fuel has been rolled out across the country without any hitch.

However, the recent outbreak of Covid-19 in India may slow down the sales of existing BS-IV models. As many States are also under lockdown conditions, the registration of vehicles will also not be allowed at the regional transport offices (RTOs).

Utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), and two-wheeler makers such as Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India are likely to be badly hit because of Covid-19. This is on account of the inventory build-up of BS-IV vehicles in the wake of the economic slowdown. However, companies such as Maruti Suzuki India, Hyundai Motor India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor and Tata Motors in the mass market segment and luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz India are unlikely to be impacted much when BS-VI regulation kicks off from April 1. Most of the products of these companies are already BS-VI compliant.

Yet, many companies are yet to roll out their BS-VI vehicles. How quickly they launch the products will depend on their sales performance during April.

For instance, Nissan India has not launched any of the vehicles with the BS-VI engine yet, and M&M has only two models — XUV300 and KUV100 (both in petrol) launched in BS-VI till now, out of its large portfolio of utility vehicles. Luxury car maker BMW Group India also has BS-VI vehicles ready, but most of their dealers still have to clear stocks of BS-IV.

Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) in the mass market segment and Mercedes-Benz India in the luxury cars segment were the first to launch the BS-VI cars and have gained market share too, for that reason.

“While some companies are still in the process of producing BS-VI vehicles, we stopped producing the BS-IV vehicles long time back, shifted to BS-VI and have already delivered in the market. That is why we are maintaining the sales volume as compared to last year while others are still behind,” Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, MSIL, told BusinessLine.

That is the reason the company managed to sell more than 5 lakh BS-VI vehicles already. Its popular models such as Alto, WagonR, Swift, Baleno and Vitara Brezza are already available in BS-VI engines.

However, all these vehicles in BS-VI are available only in petrol engine and mix of petrol and smart hybrid or CNG. There is no BS-VI model with a diesel engine as the company does not have the technology for that at present.

Some say the conversion of BS-IV diesel engine to BS-VI is tough, but there are many who have already done that or developed a fully new BS-VI diesel engine without much of a difference in pricing between the two.

Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, said, “As early as January 2018, Mercedes-Benz was the first carmaker in India to introduce the country’s first made in India, for India, BS-VI engine with the S 350 d. We have sold over 6,000 units of BS-VI cars in the country and we are confident of the long-term prospect of BS-VI diesel in the market, based on the enthusiastic customer response.”

He said the company’s diesel vehicles not only meet the stringent BS-VI norms, but also the latest Euro 6d TEMP regulations, which is the most advanced diesel engine technology in the industry. And, there is a difference of only ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh in pricing of BS-VI models from previous generations, and in the case of E-Class there is no increase in pricing.

In the two-wheeler segment, all manufacturers, including Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, TVS Motor and Suzuki, have started to roll out BS-VI products over the last few months.

However, most commercial vehicle (CV) makers are still working on conversion or new engines for the diesel BS-VI and as demand for the market is already down, they are likely to launch the new vehicles after the new norms in April.

Published on March 24, 2020
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