Wary of petrol prices, city warms up to CNG

Car owners are opting for the cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to petrol; stations have experienced a 50% leap in sale of CNG kits since Jan

Three consecutive hikes in the price of petrol and petroleum products in the span of a year has made automobile owners in the city gravitate towards cheaper fuels: the recent Rs 3.14 hike has made frantic motorists rush to install Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) kits in their vehicles. CNG is an eco-friendly fossil fuel that is cheaper than petrol and diesel by about 50-60 per cent.

GAS-TATION: The recent hike in petrol price has made frantic motorists
rush to install CNG kits in their vehicles

This means that more and more automobile owners in the city are giving petrol pumps a wide berth, opting for gas stations instead. Statistics indicate that since January 2011, there has been a whopping 50 per cent increase in the sale of CNG gas kits. Weighed down under the crushing burden of price rise, motorists are opting for the fuel, which, while being cost-effective, does not hamper the performance of the vehicle.

Santosh Thakkar, executive of Ecodrive CNG Works, said, "There has been a leap in sales by almost 50 per cent since January this year, possibly because the unchecked escalation in petrol prices has made vehicle-owners in the city seek out cheaper alternatives. A litre of petrol, which presently costs around Rs 72, gives a mileage of 15 km per hour for a 1,000 cc car, whereas a kilogram of CNG gives more mileage, while costing just Rs 32 per kg. One can thus cut down fuel costs by half by choosing CNG over petrol. In the last eight months, we have installed more than 300 CNG kits in cars. We have retrofitted even high-end, expensive cars including Mercedes models, with CNG kits in the last few months. We expect more and more people to change over to CNG in the near future."

40 gas stations in and around Mumbai have experienced a similar rush, in the wake of the price hike. Parvez Khan, owner of Raj Gas Station on the Sion-Panvel highway, said, "In January, the daily consumption of CNG at our station was 2,000 kg. Now we are selling 8,000 kg per day. Even the sale of CNG kits has increased by 50 per cent in the last eight months."

Mahanager Gas Limited (MGL), the sole supplier of CNG to almost 40 gas stations in the Mumbai Metropolitan area, has also experienced a considerable increase in demand for CNG in the last few months. Spokesperson Neera Asthana said, "According to our data, there are more than 2.2 lack vehicles plying on the Mumbai roads at present, which have been retrofitted with CNG kits."

Aspiring automobile owners at showrooms have also been enquiring about cars that are compatible with CNG.

Hridesh Mehtani, assistant manager for sales at SK Wheels said, "Nowadays, customers planning to buy automobiles have been opting for ones which are compatible with CNG, so they have the option of switching to the cheaper fuel. We have many models that are retrofitted with these CNG kits by the manufacturing company itself. Last year, hardly one of every 20 buyers used to opt for models fitted with CNG kits. Sales have now escalated to 25 per cent of the total number of cars sold."  

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