Two-wheeler makers striving to develop an alternative of petrol vehicles

Saturday 07 July 2012, 11:09 AM by

Hike in the petrol prices compelled two-wheeler makers in India to think beyond petrol models and develop diesel engines or powertrains that run on other fuel options. Makers like Mahindra & Mahindra, TVS Motors, Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto are conducting extensive research in this regard. Mahindra 2 Wheelers, a completely owned subsidiary of M&M is showing interest in employing services of its technology department of automotive division, which is engaged in manufacturing diesel vehicles for many years.

Head, Research and Development (R&D), Mahindra 2 Wheelers, P.S. Ashok, said, “We are looking into diesel technology. We (the automotive division of M&M) have a very strong diesel background.”

In order to bring an alternative to petrol vehicles, the car maker is planning to invest nearly Rs. 500 crore in its R&D over next five years. It is anticipated that diesel engines would be bulkier than the traditional petrol powertrains and will be incorporated in cruiser or touring motorcycles.

TVS Motors, India’s fourth largest two-wheeler maker, is also working on the development of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered bikes but has not introduced them yet in the auto market. According to company executive, “In addition to other technologies, we are working on diesel, too, but it is in a fairly nascent stage. The technology is very complex compared to petrol”.

The auto makers are not just focussing on diesel engines, rather they are also working on a hybrid unit that will deliver a class–leading mileage, which will hold around 35 per cent advantage over the petrol ones. TVS motors will be the first two-wheeler maker to test-launch dozen units of its hybrid scooter, Qube in September. The price of this hybrid scooter is expected to be over 20-30 per cent under the review of a conventional scooter. Analysts believe that the new innovative product from the stable of TVS will hit the Indian roads somewhere in 2013.

Royal Enfield, India’s oldest two-wheeler maker was the first in India to launch a diesel motorcycle, way back in 1990s. However, the bikes were forced to be discontinued following with the enforcement of stricter emission norms.

Head, Automotive, Frost & Sullivan, V.G. Ramakrishnan, said “One of the world's leading parts makers was developing a diesel-driven engine for use in two-wheelers. Due to the complex nature of the technology, work had to be discontinued. Companies are pursuing it on their own.”

Following the bandwagon, Hero MotoCorp, India’s leading two-wheeler maker has employed international consultants to work on a hybrid scooter using indigenous technology. At 2012 Delhi Auto Expo, the auto maker showcased a concept hybrid scooter LEAP. Company did not reveal any information about its new vehicle; however, it is expected to sparkle at the Indian shores soon.

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