Maruti Suzuki has always focused on the compressed natural gas (CNG) as a prominent alternative to the regular fuel-based cars. The company had rolled-out its first CNG vehicle almost 9 years back in 2010 and since then it has managed to sell over 5,00,000 units of its CNG cars in the country.
With diesel engines becoming too expensive because of the mandatory BS-VI upgrade, Maruti Suzuki is increasing its focus on CNG. While a near-future solution is a bigger line-up of bi-fuel petrol-CNG vehicles, the company could launch pure CNG vehicles in the distant future.
Bi-fuel CNG models are based on the existing spark-ignition petrol units and are re-calibrated for the simultaneous use with CNG. Such set-up allows for the convenience to use either the petrol engine or the CNG at any point of time, but this brings along a few compromises as well since CNG performs to the fullest only in a high compression ratio engine. At the same time, the current set-ups run on comparatively lower ratios, for reference 10.5:1 (low) against 13:1 to 14:1 (high).
Maruti Suzuki is keen on exploring the possibility of pure CNG models but believes that it will take some more time since the CNG filling stations network is still in the growing stage in the country. The government plans to increase the network of CNG stations to 10,000 outlets by the year 2030.
“Well, we have been looking at it (pure CNG models),” says CV Raman. He also adds, “Having said that, the (network of) CNG stations are still growing. So customer anxiety is still there and so a buyer would prefer a bi-fuel car. Ultimately, the people using CNG are using it also for the economics and it does make a lot of difference in terms of running costs. It has the lowest running costs. So if they have that, they should also have the peace of mind to, when they go out of Delhi or something like that, they are still able to run the vehicle.”
C V Raman hints that the government's push towards the use of cleaner vehicles will make an ideal environment for CNG vehicles in future. “If a lot of stations are there, then the range anxiety is not there and the queues are not there. The people can look at a dedicated CNG, so to speak. From an economics point of view, it’s very good,” Raman says.
[Source: Autocar India]