Petrol cars regain lost ground
Just when it looked like diesel had won the 'king of fuel' crown, its more expensive counterpart is beginning to claw back some lost ground.
Although demand for diesel is still strong and accounted for 57 per cent of total car sales till September end, there has been a 3 per cent to 5 per cent jump in sales of petrol cars in October, taking its overall tally to 46 per cent - 48 per cent.
According to different car manufacturers, after almost two years, the festive season has provided just the shot in the arm that petrol cars needed. Customers are vying for popular entry-level petrol cars like Hyundai's EON and Maruti's Alto 800 as well as hatchbacks like Maruti's Swift, Nissan's Micra, Skoda's Fabia and the Toyota Etios Liva. A hike in the price of diesel by Rs 5 in mid-September has also played its part in driving buyers towards petrol models.
"Petrol cars have made a strong comeback after the government hiked diesel prices. For several models, we have seen higher demand for petrol versions in October. For instance, sales of our petrol version of the Beat hatchback increased 5 per cent to take its proportion to 20 per cent of overall Beat sales," said P Balendran, vice president (corporate affairs), General Motors India
Image courtesy: Economic Times
Carmakers have tried to cash in on the increasing interest in diesel cars by resorting to periodic price hikes. This has resulted in the gap between diesel and petrol versions widening from Rs 60,000 to Rs 80,000 a year ago to Rs 90,000 to Rs 130,000.
"Petrol cars are coming back with customers opting for the more favourable economics of running these cars. The attractive price tags on these models have resulted in an upswing in demand for petrol models in the past few weeks," added Sandeep Singh, deputy MD (marketing) at Toyota Kirloskar Motors.
Both the EON and the Alto 800, for instance, have a sub-Rs 3 lakh ex-factory price. The pick-up in EON sales has helped Hyundai post an 18 per cent growth in petrol models in October as against 10 per cent for its diesel variants (which include the i20 and the Verna sedan).