Honda will stop manufacturing diesel engines in India in February 2023.

The Japanese manufacturer will discontinue its 1.5-liter diesel engine prior to the implementation of harsher RDE regulations in April.

Prior to the implementation of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) norms in India in April 2023, the Japanese automaker plans to phase out production of its 1.5-liter i-DTEC diesel engine, which is currently offered in the Amaze, City (fifth generation), and WR-V SUV.

The new RDE standards, which require significant investments in diesel engines to adapt them to satisfy the stringent new pollution requirements, have resulted in the discontinuation of various diesel models across brands. For example, the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios and Aura compact sedan quietly dropped diesel engine options early this year. At the same time, the premium i20 hatchback is set to follow suit with the implementation of RDE norms.

Honda Cars India has already ceased production of diesel versions of the Jazz, WR-V, and select models of the Amaze compact car. The rest of the lineup will now see diesel variants phase out between December 2022 and February 2023.

Honda launched the 1.5-liter diesel engine, dubbed ‘i-DTEC,’ in India in 2013 with the Amaze compact sedan. The engine features Honda’s ‘Earth Dreams’ technology and is touted to be the lightest in its class thanks to a full-aluminum build and friction and noise reduction optimizations.

According to the firm, the BS VI-compliant engine offers certified fuel efficiency of 24.7kpl in the Amaze manual-transmission model and 24.1kpl in the bigger City sedan. This 1.5 diesel engine delivers a verified fuel efficiency of 23.7kpl in the WR-V crossover.

The end of made-in-India Export 1.6L diesel engine

According to sources, HCIL will also discontinue manufacturing and exports of the 1.6-litre diesel engine in March 2023. Currently, this 1.6-liter engine is exported from India to Thailand for use in the Honda CR-V in areas such as Thailand and the Philippines.

The end of diesel engine exports is projected to have an impact on HCIL’s revenue from exports of parts and components, which increased by 60% year on year to Rs 1,185.77 crore in FY2022 (FY2021: Rs 738.23 crore).

It is understood that HCIL’s suppliers were informed well in advance of the planned phase out of Honda’s diesel engines – both 1.5- and 1.6-litre units – and that the company will stop producing these engines at its plant in Tapukara, Rajasthan, which is fully equipped with a forging and die-casting shop for in-house manufacturing of engine blocks, heads, crankshafts, and connecting rods.

Over the last decade, the share of diesel vehicles in India has declined drastically from 54 percent to 20 percent, and the change has accelerated after the adoption of BS-VI Phase-I emission rules in April 2020. Diesel’s contribution to hatchbacks and sedans has nearly evaporated, with SUVs now accounting for the lion’s share of demand.

While Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Tata Motors continue to offer diesel options in the compact and midsize SUV segments, the Japanese OEMs have abandoned diesel in favor of hybrid powertrain technology.

RDE requirements and tougher criteria

The new RDE standards will require OEMs to fulfill emission targets, particularly those outlined in the BS-VI recommendations for Particulate Matter (PM) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), under real-world driving scenarios rather than only on an engine test bench. This would imply requiring near-optimal emissions performance in a variety of geographical conditions across India.

According to industry experts, this would necessitate the implementation of technologies such as selective catalytic reduction or SCR (further NOx reduction), which is currently used in high-displacement engines and will be extremely cost-prohibitive, especially for diesel engines up to 1500cc displacement.

Honda, on the other hand, will continue to focus on its famed i-VTEC petrol engine technology, with 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engines powering the Amaze and City models in India, respectively, as well as the City e:newly-introduced HEV’s strong-hybrid drivetrain.

Meanwhile, Honda is working on bringing a brand-new small SUV (codenamed: 3US) to the Indian market around the middle of 2023 in order to recapture market share that has decreased dramatically in recent years as a result of a lack of a solid SUV product portfolio. The new midsize SUV will be offered with both gasoline and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Honda expects hybrid technology to compensate for its exit from diesel, albeit how cheaply the 1.5 hybrid engine (which is expensive in the City) can be priced remains to be seen.

Share to Others

Leave a Comment