Hyundai, GM, Mahindra plan to launch gas variants
December 5, 2008 11:21 AM
Greener fuels are gradually gaining ground in the automobile industry with manufacturers focusing on more gas variants.
General Motors India (GMI), for instance, is planning LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) options for all its models in India.
"We are launching alternative fuel variants for all models soon, though it is difficult for me to say what would come first, LPG or CNG," Mr P. Balendran, Vice-President (Corporate Affairs), GMI, told Business Line. The CNG variant of the Chevrolet Optra is already being offered in Mumbai, Delhi and Vadodara, largely due to the fact that the fuel is available in these cities.
Hyundai, likewise, is coming out with CNG and LPG versions of the Getz early next year. "The LPG variant will come first," official sources said. The company already has LPG/CNG versions of the Santro and a CNG version of Accent.
Mahindra-Renault recently began despatching the CNG version of Logan for the taxi market, especially in Mumbai where they are part of the local Meru fleet. "We sold around 1,200 units in last the few months," Mr Nalin Mehta, Chief Executive Officer, said.
CNG, which costs about one-third of petrol, and LPG, which is priced around Rs 15 less than petrol, are considered to be greener and more economical alternatives for conventional automotive fuels. The initial additional cost for the gas-run variants and the inadequacy in terms of the network of gas dispensing stations are cited as major deterrents to the commercial prospects of CNG and LPG-variants.
The gas variants of different car models will cost Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 more than the base variants. However, the substantial gains in operating cost, especially for those who drive more than 20-25 km daily, will compensate for the extra expenditure, according to experts.
According to the industry estimates, there are more than 5 lakh LPG-run vehicles on street, while the number of CNG-run vehicles would be more than 3.5 lakh.