A few weeks ago, Shailesh Chandra, President of the Tata Motors Passenger Vehicle department, confirmed that the carmaker will equip some of its models with factory-fitted CNG kits that will be launched in the market in FY2022. This is particularly exciting because Tata's arch rivals - Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai - have been offering factory-fitted CNG kits on some of their popular models for quite some time and have had reasonable success as well. At the end of the day, it will be the customers who will be benefitting with wider options to choose from, if they are in the market for a CNG vehicle.
While there hasn't been any official word on which models are set to receive the CNG-treatment, we reckon the range will start off with Tata's entry level models - the Tiago hatchback and the Tigor sub-compact sedan. Incidentally, a test mule of the CNG-powered Tata Tiago has recently been spotted testing on our roads, completely uncamouflaged, thus hinting at its imminent launch very soon. It must be noted that the Tiago's rivals - Maruti Suzuki WagonR and the Hyundai Santro - are already offered with CNG kits. The competition is only going to get more intense.
The Tata Tiago CNG will likely come fitted with a 12kg or 60-liters CNG tank which will be positioned in the boot. While this will definitely eat away a considerable amount of boot space, given the fact that the Tiago CNG is expected to offer a fuel economy of 30-35km per kg of CNG, customers sure wouldn't be complaining. This is particularly relevant in the light of rising petrol and diesel prices everyday, especially for use within the city. Eventually, the Tata Tigor is also expected to be fitted with a CNG tank of similar capacity with similar fuel economy.
The upcoming range of factory-fitted CNG models will be powered by Tata's 1.2L, naturally aspirated, three-cylinder petrol engine. When fueled with petrol, this engine produces 86PS of power. You can expect a slight drop in power figures when this engine is made to run on CNG. The CNG variants could cost INR 50,000 more than their equivalent ICE-powered vehicles. The test mule of the Tiago seen here is the mid-spec XT trim. Unlike Maruti and Hyundai, who offer CNG kits mostly on the mid-spec trims of each model, Tata Motors is also expected to offer the CNG kit on top-spec XZ variant.
Following the Tigor and the Tiago, Tata Motors could also offered a CNG kit on the Altroz premium hatchback as it uses the same 1.2L petrol engine. If so, the Altroz will be the only premium hatchback to be offered with a CNG kit and also the only one with three fuel options - petrol, diesel and CNG. Currently, most CNG cars in India come from Maruti Suzuki. That includes the Ertiga, WagonR, Alto, Celerio and S-Presso. Hyundai offers CNG kits on the Grand i10 Nios, Santro, and Aura.