Petrol cars back in vogue

In a sharp trend reversal, petrol models from major carmakers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Honda are commanding waiting periods after recouping some of the ground lost to their diesel-powered twins over the last two years. The delivery list is stretching beyond two months in some cases, even as manufacturers try to match the sudden shift by increasing petrol car output.

Market leader Maruti Suzuki said the share of petrol cars in new car sales has gone up 5% in the last two months. Maruti has seen waiting periods for petrol variants of the Ertiga MPV, Swift, Wagon R and Dzire models climb, while Hyundai added that petrol variants of the Eon, i20 hatches and the Verna sedan were witnessing a similar trend.

"The demand for petrol cars has been increasing and we are increasing production. In a few petrol models, there is a waiting period now for the first time in a while, which we will take a month or two to match," a Maruti official told FE.

Added Rakesh Srivastava, senior VP for sales and marketing at Hyundai Motor India: "The reduction in price differential will improve the sales of petrol models. The demand shift will lead to better utilisation of capacities and reduction in promotional offers in the coming months."

For Honda, which offers mostly petrol models (apart from the Amaze which has a diesel variant), there is a waiting period for the Brio automatic, top-end City variant, CR-V SUV and the Amaze petrol of up to two months. "Ever since petrol prices started falling, we have seen a clear jump in enquiry levels," a Honda Cars India official said.

The return of the petrol car has been rather sudden — the share of petrol car sales rose 5% in a relatively short span of the last 3-4 months from last year when they represented just about 45% of new car sales (the rest 55% came from diesel cars). The recent drop in demand for diesel cars has been blamed on the inverse movement of petrol and diesel prices over the last few months.

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