Metro motorists step on the gas

New Delhi, Nov 17 | Updated: Nov 18 2005, 06:20am hrs
After propelling Delhis public transport system, compressed natural gas (CNG) is going upmarket. In Mumbai, the story is the same albeit with a twist liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is more popular there.

With the price of petrol causing a big dent in their pockets, car users in the two metros are increasingly switching over to gas in a big way, and sales of conversion kits have virtually doubled since the last petrol price hike.

According to figures collated by Indraprastha Gas Ltd, the sole distributor of CNG in the Capital, after the petrol price hike in end-August, sales of CNG kits have doubled to 2,000 monthly.

This is slated to witness an exponential increase as only 20,000 private vehicles are registered as running on CNG and gas companies step up on promotions.

In Mumbai, too, the sale of LPG kits has gone up to 2,500 per month, according to kit distributors.

Despite CNG kits costing up to Rs 37,000 and LPG kits that come for Rs 20,000, the cost of the running dynamics works in favour of gas. For a small car, the cost of running averages about 90 paise per mile on CNG which costs Rs 18.5 a kilo. In comparison, petrol price of Rs 43.5 (Delhi price) leads to a running cost of Rs 2.55, which makes it almost 65% costlier than CNG.

Similarly, in Mumbai, LPG, with a running cost of Rs 1.95 per km, is 50% cheaper than petrol (Rs 2.95 per km).

According to conversion kit dealers, private vehicles are the ones driving demand.

Of the 250 vehicles which we fit every month, around 230 are on private vehicles, says Ramesh Handa, chairman of Nugas Technologies.

Whats more, it is not just small cars, but even bigger vehicles like C and D segment vehicles that are being fitted with CNG kits. It helps people own bigger cars while bringing down the cost of ownership, says an industry insider.

Although the CNG technology has been around for quite some time now, prices of kits have been hovering at the Rs 37,000 level as a result of the spurt in demand.

Indraprastha Gas Ltd, too, has reported a spike in CNG sales (volumes) during the period from about 8.7 lakh kg per day in August to around 9 lakh kg per day now.