The Japanese are a long way behind Europe in diesel technology, but catching up has never been a big priority for them. Understandably so, since their major markets Japan, North America, China and ASEAN are petrol dominated, and they’re just bit part players in Europe.

But with high growth markets such as India embracing diesel in a big way, Japanese brands may lose out in the long term to rivals like Volkswagen. Market leader Maruti Suzuki buys oil burners from Fiat, and No.2 brand Hyundai has its own diesels, but companies like Honda have nothing in the bag at present. They realise this, and are doing something about it.

“The rapid dieselisation of the market has happened only in the last one year, as the price difference between diesel and petrol has gone up from Rs 10 to Rs 21. We had to prioritise our efforts to be a big brand with big volumes, which will come from Brio. We are developing a diesel engine in Japan to power City,” revealed Jnaneswar Sen, Senior VP Sales & Marketing at Honda Siel India.

A City Diesel won’t debut anytime soon, though. “It could take us more than two years,” Mr Sen added. Surely they’ll be hoping that not too much ground is lost in the process.