India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) plans to develop an in-house, 1.5-litre diesel engine, to power its compact SUV based on the Swift platform.
The concept model for the SUV — the XA Alpha
The company currently has the 1.3-litre diesel engine in its portfolio whose technology is sourced from Italian automaker Fiat.
The 1.3-litre engine powers all of Maruti’s diesel offerings including the Swift and Ritz hatchbacks and the Dzire and SX4 sedans. But with a maximum output of 75Ps it is considered unsuitable for an SUV. Most compact SUVs in India including the Ford EcoSport, Renault Duster and Honda’s upcoming SUV based on its small car Brio have more powerful diesel engines.
“The 1.3-litre Fiat engine is a little small for a SUV. We would like to have an engine that has a power of at least 90Ps or thereabout,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO, MSIL. “Suzuki is developing a range of diesel engines and we are looking at a suitable 1.5-litre powertrain. Fiat also has a bigger 1.6-litre engine. All options are open.”
The lack of an appropriate diesel powertrain is believed to be the reason for the delay in the company’s plans of launching the SUV.
Maruti had displayed the concept model for it — the XA Alpha — during the New Delhi Auto Expo in 2012. While it takes around 2 years for a company to launch a vehicle from the concept stage, the SUV is expected to hit the market only in 2015 in India.
“Developing a car takes time so if there is a delay, there are always good reasons for it,” said RC Bhargava, chairman, MSIL. “We have to be ready for the future with anything that we develop. We are not making cars only for India but other markets as well.”
The SUV is likely to be priced around Rs. 6-9 lakh.