While most world countries have come to the conclusion that vehicle emissions contribute mostly to city air pollution, nine or more countries, along with cities and states have imposed ban on production of diesel cars. Copenhagen mayor wants the city to stop production of diesel cars with immediate effect. In December 2018, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City affirmed that they would remove diesel cars and vans by 2015. Meanwhile, Norway has plans to phase out conventional cars (with Internal Combustion Engine) by 2025, followed by France (in 2040) and UK by 2050. No wonder, Maruti Suzuki, major Indian car manufacturer has responded to this global alert and takes action aptly.
While remembering Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel who invented the diesel engine that created history as a form of cheaper alternative to petrol engine, it was later found that the invention had its ling side too. Heating air (high heat needed to fire a diesel engine) in a diesel engine gives rise to generation of nitrogen oxides that include toxic Nitrogen Oxide (NO2), greenhouse gas Nitrous Oxide (N2O), as well as Nitric oxide (NO) , which reacts with oxygen to form a lethal gas. In a petrol engine car, these are automatically cleaned up by 3-way catalytic converter, as a result of which the emission contains 30% lesser NO2, as compared to a diesel car. That’s precisely the reason behind targeting diesel cars.
In April 2019, Maruti Suzuki announced that it would phase out production of diesel models w.e.f. April 1, 2020, when Bharat Stage VI Emission Standards will come into force. Elaborating further into the issue, the Indo-Japanese joint venture company admitted that the enhanced emission control imposed by the government of India would make new diesel engines costlier by up to Rs. 1.5 lakh while the acquisition cost of diesel cars will automatically go up considerably. In terms of ROI, it would also be uneconomical to invest in new form of diesel engines to meet the BD VI norms. CNG or Compressed Natural Gas, it reiterated, could be an effective replacement for both types of fuels
Looking at it dispassionately, diesel cars do not prove economical to run these days too. The customary facility of gaining lower operating cost due to the wide gap between costlier petrol and lower diesel fuel has also narrowed substantially. The price of diesel, in a metropolitan city such as Chennai recorded Rs. 70.48 a liter, while petrol was sold at Rs.75.92 a liter.
Ethically speaking, Maruti Suzuki does not underestimate the power of public awareness. Concerns about health risk from toxic diesel emissions have disturbed average Indians as it has affected people all over the world. Also, since it is a major polluter of the environment, it is fast losing ground in passenger vehicle market globally. So it is only too sensible that Maruti Suzuki has decided to stop making diesel cars. Meanwhile, it may be worthwhile to take a look at other major car manufacturers that have taken similar resolutions, and are listed below.
Surprisingly enough, the first diesel car invented in 1823 was a biofuel car. Rudolf Diesel displayed the first Diesel engine in Augsburg, Germany in 1893 that also ran on peanut oil. However, the Cummins "Diesel Special" racecar was driven at Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 in 1931. In 1933 a Bentley fitted with a diesel engine was the first of its kind to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1934, the Diesel Cummins Indy Car made another successful appearance. In 1933, the Citroën Rosalie was introduced as the first production passenger car to be powered by a diesel engine. On account of legal restrictions imposed on diesel engine, the car did not go into commercial production till 1935.