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        CNG Cars to Take on the Markets in India

        Satish Kalepu

        Satish Kalepu

        All auto makers around the globe are driven towards developing eco-friendly cars which means CNG cars or LPG cars for their customers. Availability of natural gas is expected to double this year and will be available in more Indian cities. IV Roa from Maruti Suzuki India Limited has already confirmed that the company is developing more models that run on alternative fuels. “We are developing engines that would run on CNG. By early 2010, we will introduce CNG-driven cars in each of the segments we operate,” he said. “Initially, we were focused on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). But CNG seems to be the future. Although the CNG-enabled cars would be a bit costly, their running cost will be lower than that of LPG,” he added.

        Maruti is already in talks with Reliance Industries Limited and GAIL that are the main producers and transportation of CNG in the country. RIL person has confirmed about the talks but refused to divulge the details.

        M&M is also developing CNG-run small commercial vehicles. Apart from M&M and Maruti, Hyundai is also developing CNG-driven cars for the Indian as well as overseas market. However, no one is sure how fast this segment will grow as India is still lacking in terms of support in regulations as well as infrastructure. Presently, there is no automaker that sells cars driven with CNG-run engines.

        A study by the rating agency CRISIL says that CNG usage is 80% cheaper than petrol for taxis and 40% cheaper for three wheelers and light commercial vehicles. For bus, it is 30% cheaper than diesel. Nearly 5 lakhs vehicles are estimated to use CNG in India, making it the world's fourth largest CNG market.

        Maruti Suzuki