Hail the Indian government which seems to be on a mission to take petrol and diesel prices to profound heights. And even a nationwide ‘bandh’ could not move the ruling Indian government to bring down the fuel prices. So, life goes on, and now we have car manufacturers coming forward to heal the wounds on the pockets of Indian consumers. No, they are not coming up with cheaper car models, or reducing their car prices. Instead they are drawing up comprehensive plans to bring more of their car models with CNG and LPG variants.
The leading car manufacturers in India, such as Maruti Suzuki, General Motors, Toyota and Hyundai are planning to bring more of their cars in LPG and CNG options. Maruti Suzuki, which has been taking a lot of heat from its competitors in the small car segment, is planning a strategic attack with CNG models and will dual-fuel variants for five of its cars, including the popular Alto and WagonR.
According to officials of auto companies, alternative fuel market is likely to become stronger in the upcoming months. Since these vehicles have really low operating cost, people are bound to take notice. As per estimates, the per kilometre cost on petrol is Rs 3.44, it is Rs 2.35 on diesel, Rs 2.23 on petrol-LPG and Rs 1.31 on petrol-CNG.
Dual-fuel models make up as much as 15-20% of total sales, say marketing officials. “The shift will be faster to alternate fuels now,” said Ankush Arora, sales and marketing head, General Motors in India. General Motors presently offers LPG on its Spark compact car and CNG on Optra and Aveo sedans. “As we go forward, companies have to provide alternate fuel as an option on many of their models,” Arora said. And we have earlier reported that GM will launch an LPG version of its Beat compact by year-end.
And this emerging trend could not skip the eyes of Maruti Suzuki, which has decided to offer CNG option across many segments. While the CNG option will make its appearance on popular compacts like Alto, WagonR and Estilo, it will also be featured in sedan like SX4, and Eeco in the multi-purpose category. MSI has worked on a new technology, i-GPI (Intelligent Gas Port Injection), for the dual-fuel engines and would offer CNG as factory-fitted option.
The extra money that you have to pay for a CNG car is typically around Rs 45000-50000 over its petrol-only model, and about Rs 20000-30000 for a LPG model. But that’s about the company fitted models. There are companies which offer CNG and LPG kits that can be fitted on various models. There is quite a sizeable number of people who rush to get CNG and LPG kits fitted in their petrol only cars.
But there seems to a tiny problem there. “The only issue with a retrofitted model is that it can face problems on warranty as many-a-times car companies refuse to take them within their fold. They say that damages and accidents could be a result of the tampering done in the car while CNG/LPG kits were being installed by an outside vendor,” an industry analyst said.
On the international front, Fiat is also considering to launch CNG models to reduce the world’s dependence on oil. Fiat already possesses the experience and hardware in South America, where its tetrafuel engines run on not two or three but four different fuels.