Mileage of a car has once again emerged as a key factor in deciding whether it makes practical sense to buy the car or not. For buyers in the mass-market automobile segment, fuel price hikes may be one reason to push back purchases even as those already with a personal four or two wheeler are feeling the pinch stronger than ever before. Petrol prices in recent weeks have soared to new highs with diesel rates also soaring. And while the best driving and riding practices are often espoused as a way of saving fuel, the cost per kilometre of moving in personal vehicles is costlier than ever before. As such, CNG has once again emerged as a viable fuel option for those looking at a comparatively more affordable option.
(Also read: Maruti looking to cash in on increased demand for CNG vehicles)
A CNG vehicle typically does have a higher upfront cost. Factory-fitted CNG kits can cost anywhere between ₹50,000 to ₹60,000 while authorized centers may charge around ₹40,000. That the cylinder takes up all of the space in the boot of a small vehicle and most of the space inside the boot of a sedan also tends to put off many. Then there is the issue of a dip in performance.
But the trade-off is quite significant, especially in current times.
At around ₹43 per kilo, a CNG vehicle can travel for around 20 kilometres. That is a little over ₹2 per kilometre. In comparison, a litre of petrol in Delhi on Monday was at ₹90.58. Assuming a car returns 20 kilometres to a litre, that is still more than ₹4 per kilometre. Two cars - one on CNG and the other on petrol - running about 50 kilometres on a day will have a sizable difference in running costs. Over a time period of a few years, the cost of CNG installation is likely to be recovered.
The issue of boot space is a compelling factor but many have chosen to install roof rails for storing luggage. And with newer technology, the performance difference between CNG and petrol/diesel vehicles has become marginal, even if it still does exist. Then there is the fact that emission levels are lower in a CNG vehicle as it is a green fuel.
Companies like Maruti and Hyundai have quite the lead when it comes to offering factory-fitted CNG kits. While these kits may cost more than what one may pay in the outside market, there is the benefit of warranty, increased safety and hassle-free service experience.
As such, with petrol and diesel prices showing absolutely no signs of climbing down, the relevance of CNG as an automotive fuel may be more now than ever before.