French auto major Renault Wednesday said it will stop selling diesel vehicles in India from next year when BS-VI emission norms kick in, following the footsteps of market leader Maruti Suzuki, citing tightening regulatory measures against the fuel globally. The company, which made its global unveil of its compact multi-purpose vehicle Triber here in India, is bringing the vehicle only in petrol engine option as part of the strategy even as it prepares to introduce electric vehicles (EV) in the near future.
"I think this is the strategy that we are going to follow," Groupe Renault Chief Executive Officer Thierry Bollor told reporters in an interaction when asked if the company would stop selling diesel cars in India when the next emission norm kick in India from next year. From April 1, 2020, India will implement the stricter Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norm across the country in all vehicle categories. At the same time, car market leader Maruti Suzuki India said that it would stop selling diesel vehicles stating an increase in cost due to transition to BS-VI, especially for small diesel cars would make it unaffordable.
When asked about Renault's plans for diesel vehicles in India and whether the company would also go the Maruti Suzuki way, he said, "I believe so", adding "Triber has no diesel engine".
Globally, Bollor said many countries and even cities are going for greener fuels and regulations are made to discourage diesel. "Today, there is a clear regulatory approach saying that diesel is not welcome. Even ICE (internal combustion engine) is not welcome in future in Europe as well. All regulations are designed to push the car industry towards EV or very refined powertrains, hydrogen or this type of clean mobility. That's the trend," he said.
"Let's see what is going to happen in India on that field," he added. Bollor said Renault's diesel vehicle sales have decreased over a period of time and hence the company has decided to limit the development of diesel engines. Diesel is naturally decreasing in terms of the proportion of our sales. It is massive. it is not a sudden story. Since 2012 in Europe there has been a regular decrease of this proportion. After 2015, the drop was even more massive," he added.
When the company prepares for Euro 7, he said, "It will be just for people who need to drive very long distance, who are not driving in cities, or for LCVs, even for LCVs we believe it is very much going to be EV oriented (in future)."
When asked about the company's EV plans, Bollor did not elaborate on a timeline for launching such vehicles in India but said EVs would be a part of the strategy when the company targets to double its annual sales to 2 lakh units by 2022.
He said in the recent past Renault did not have the right EV product for India but it now has "at least one right product and some more are getting prepared, which could be extremely appropriate for this market".
The company is "elaborating strategy" to successfully market the EV here in India, he added. Responding to query on whether Renault will locally manufacture EVs in India he replied in affirmative saying the company has been able to be cost-competitive with its existing cars as they were manufactured here.
"There is no reason why for EVs it would be different. If you really want to serve your customer properly in such a massive market like India, you have to be in India (locally manufacture)," Bollor added.
On Renault's new model Triber, he said the compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has been conceived, developed and produced in India, for Indian customers first, before it is exported to other similar markets.
"India is a key market for Groupe Renault. We are still young to India, yet our ambitions are high in line with our 'Drive the Future' strategic plan: we aim at doubling our sales by 2022," he said.
Bollor further said, "For that reason, we are bringing Renault Triber, another breakthrough concept, targeted for India's core market...It is a real game-changer."
Commenting on design innovation around Triber, Groupe Renault Executive Vice-President (Corporate Design) Laurens van den Acker said the goal was to design a car that would transform according to the many needs and the many lives of customers. "Whether they are parents, lovers, a friends' group, a family pack, whatever their tribe, whatever their lifestyle, Renault Triber should adapt," he said. The model offers an attractive, robust and compact design and is re-inventing space for all, he said.
"We are proud of our latest breakthrough, which turned a length challenge into a miracle within 4 metres," Acker added. Renault Triber is powered by a 1-litre petrol engine. It will be manufactured at the Chennai plant and hit the Indian market in the second half of 2019.