Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki have announced limited period discounts on petrol models amid fears that the petrol price hike would accelerate the demand for diesel cars.

Hyundai has offered discounts on petrol models of the Eon, Santro, i10, i20, Accent and Verna. The “Petrol Price Lock Assurance” programme covers the fuel hike, announced on Wednesday, for the next seven months and is valid on purchases made till May 31, a release says.

Arvind Saxena, Director (Marketing and Sales) , said: “The price hike is severe. We need to soften the blow for our customers.”

Tata Motors is offering discounts on the petrol variants of Indica and Indigo. The rebate varies between Rs.10.000 and Rs.50,000, depending on the model. A spokesman of the company said the discounts were being offered for the last few months. For Nano, the company runs discount schemes every month and for May, the discount is Rs.10,000.

Maruti Suzuki has offered a Rs.30,000 discount on Alto. “Sales of Alto is falling and to boost them, we will offer discounts of Rs.30,000 till month-end,” Managing Executive Officer (Marketing and Sales) Mayank Pareek said.

The challenge for the car makers would now be to reduce the inventory of petrol cars. . Not surprisingly, they have now been forced to come up with schemes to push, if not maintain, the sale of petrol cars. At another level, they would be required to evolve strategies to meet the incremental demand for diesel cars as the price differential between the fuels has widened to Rs.34 a litre.

“The fuel price hike is sure to impact the industry. It will further dampen the consumer sentiment, ” said a spokesperson of Honda Siel Cars India Ltd.

The company, which is only into petrol , is hoping that the impact is temporary.

According to Crisil, the proportion of diesel cars sold is expected to increase to 42-43 per cent this fiscal as against around 40 in 2011-12. Following the higher-than-expected price hike, Crisil has revised the forecast for passenger car demand from 10-13 per cent to 10 per cent.

Neeraj Garg, Member of Board and Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, said: “Such hikes in petrol prices will further worsen the situation for the overall auto industry thus refraining customers from new purchases.”

Describing petrol price hike, coming as it did on the back of depreciating rupee, increase in excise duty and additional taxes some States, as a “double whammy”, P. Balendran, Vice-President (Corporate Affairs) of General Motors India, said that the market was already sluggish and the sentiments down.

(With inputs from PTI)