Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Premium car buyers now seeking CNG version of Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, Honda City, Toyota Camry and Corolla

Even the rich are now turning to the fuel of taxi drivers, as skyrocketing petrol prices threaten to rock household budgets. Demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) kits from premium car owners has risen 25-30% in the last few months, companies dealing with CNG kit fitment say. CNG is not only cheaper than both petrol and diesel but also gives better running average. 

The demand is being seen across brands. While in the premium car segment, buyers are seeking the CNG version of Honda CR-V, Honda Civic , Honda City ,Toyota Camry and Corolla, sales of entry-level CNG cars, such as Maruti's WagonR and Alto and Hyundai's Santro have recorded a jump over the previous year. 

"Till last year, we used to fit about 40 private cars with CNG kits in a month. This has risen to 300 to 400 cars," said Bindra CNG's Dharampal Singh , who's been fixing CNG kits in cars in Andheri for several years now. 

Mumbai's CNG kit dealers say the fuel can lead to savings of over 70%, as it is not only cheaper than petrol - 32 a kg as compared with 68 a litre for petrol - but also gives better fuel average. A Honda CR-V, which generally gives an average of 6-7 km for a litre of petrol, would give at least 17 km for a kg of CNG. The mathematics clearly works in favour of CNG - for the price of one litre of petrol, one would get two kilos of CNG and about 27 km more mileage. 

"I find CNG highly economical. It is easy to get and helps me save cost by more than 60%," said Thane-based businessman KY Chandgude, who has a CNG kit fitted in his vehicle. "I also don't have to fear someone stealing CNG," he added. 

The trend is underscored by the growing number of petrol-car users opting for a CNG fitment in their vehicles. CNG kits, which enable vehicle engines to be powered by both natural gas and petrol, are imported from Argentina and Italy and cost between 25,000 and 30,000. 

The alternative fuel makes economic sense for middle-class Indians who have seen cost of loans and fuel rise several times over the last year and a half. Fuel prices have risen almost 9% in the past two months while the central bank, which has raised policy rates 10 times since March last year, is expected to do so again this month. 

CNG kit dealers have been seeking approval from the regional transport offices (RTOs) for hi-end cars. "Unless approvals are sought for various models of cars, customers with CNG kits cannot go to pumps for fueling," said Raghuvir Singh of Dashmesh CNG at Wadala. 

Dealers are also trying to get approval for BMW and Mercedes models. 

In cost, CNG has also piped liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG. "With no price stability for LPG, customers are opting for CNG kits," said Singh.


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