Thursday, September 08, 2011

The strange case of Diesel cars in India!

Every car owner would have had these thoughts run through the mind on several occasions - especially if their car runs on Petrol.
Each month, when the credit card statement comes full with fuel transactions, frustration reaches a level which is not healthy for human beings, and then starts the hunt for a diesel vehicle.
Last week, the urge to save big on a diesel car took over me. Afterall, in commercials and on brochures, diesel driving people are depicted as sharp, savvy, and eternally smiling - even while filling fuel at the pump! And petrol car drivers are reduced to counting their fellow idiots on the road, with a dog for company!
Compared to them, the expression on my face while filling petrol into my pre-historic petrol guzzling vehicle is quite horrid. Especially when my card is maxed out, and the fuel needle does not go beyond half :(
So I headed out to all the showrooms in town to take test drives of the vehicles. Realization!!!
Car manufacturers are literally fleecing customers into buying diesel cars! There is absolutely no way by which a Diesel Ritz would cost 6.5 lakhs, while a Petrol one would come at less than 5. Seriously, there is nothing in that engine to justify that price hike. The same phenomenon holds true for all cars which have diesel and petrol versions. Ford, Tata, Chevrolet, Mahindra, Maruti, Volkswagen, Honda, and all the other manufacturers know this obsession, and surprisingly, they are all united in making an utter Giraffe of the customer.  What is even more surprising is that these ‘manufacturers’ actually don’t own the complete car. They get the engines from some poor company like Fiat (which has an atrocious market penetration in India) and just build a body around it. We must really be blind – the engines of Maruti Swift, Ritz, Tata Indica Vista, Fiat Grande Punto, and probably a couple of other cars in the segment are all the same! The much touted K-Series is not really from Maruti, but is from the Fiat stable. So in reality, we will be getting the same engine irrespective of which of these cars we drive – with a few subtle modifications of course.
raise-of-petrol-priceOk, so what did I do with this info? Did a little calculation. My petrol car gives a mileage of about 9-10 kms in the city. A diesel car would give say 16 or 18. Considering today’s fuel prices, the cost per km on Petrol comes to about 8/- and if I buy a diesel car, it’ll come down to say 3/-. So the saving per km is Rs 5/-. I average about 20000 kms a year, and that’ll come to a saving of Rs 1,00,000/- on fuel costs. Now that is an incorrect calculation for two reasons – once Diesel gets deregulated, the margin between petrol and diesel will come down drastically, and then we don’t spend the same for maintenance. But even at that rate, it’ll take over 2 years just to recoup the additional investment on a diesel car. If my fate laughs, and diesel and petrol do manage to come to the same price range, Jai Hind!
The decision to put off buying a diesel car is easily taken after this, but what is more difficult is the thought leaving the mind. Each time I convince myself that my present car is the best option available, there comes along a full page Ad in the newspaper touting some other ground-breaking technology (from Fiat obviously) and people stand in front of a board (like during the presentation ceremony of IPL) and sign their names under fantastic mileage figures like 40 and 50 kmpl!! But no, I will be firm, I will be firm, I will be firm… at least till someone comes up and boasts of the mileage and power their Vento gives.
Owning a car was never this tough! Sad smile

1 comment:

Shilpa said...

Hahaha...I was laughing so hard reading your calculations and your determination! lol! Yes, the shiny ads of shiny new diesel cars are amazing. But don't get tempted.
Also in your calculation, you forgot to include the cost of maintaining your old car. Or are you going to sell it? If you do, you might save some.