Petrol, Diesel, CNG or LPG Shiva Answers Visitors Questions

author image Shiva Shankar
Sunday 19 July 2009, 00:00 AM

Two weeks ago, we published an article onchoosing between petrol, diesel, CNG and LPG. There were many questions asked in that article.

With reference to the article on fuels, I am hereby answering the questions and also sharing some important experiences of customers expressed in other articles which are relevant and helps you in choosing the right fuel.

1. Is the usage of LPG/CNG in cars safe? Please compare between CNG & LPG.

The usage of a car with LPG and CNG is as good as that of petrol engine. Though there is in principle a risk when the LPG tank is in the luggage compartment, there has been hardly any report on failure of cylinder with leakages.

In fact, with factory fitted LPG or CNG cars, we can easily say there is no risk, and whatever risk is seen is just psychological.

Moreover, the systems are fitted with fail safe mechanisms, so that even on impact there would be no danger of explosion.

2. Can you elaborate which is car best suited for LPG? Is there any parameter as to how to elaborate how to judge whether a car is compatible with LPG.

These days there is tough competition among car manufacturers who have come up with newer versions of their existing models with LPG/CNG. Examples are the Wagon R and 800 DUO and the recently launched Alto DUO from Maruti. Hyundai has LPG versions of the Santro and CNG version of Accent. Similarly, there are more such models.

In all these models much care has been taken for modifying the engine and putting the best quality cylinder and connections to ensure trouble free service. The overall worthiness of each car depends upon accessories and overall performance of the car. The main point here is that the Factory fitted LPG kits perform better than the one fitted by owners for used cars.

The compatibility of LPG with a car, can be judged based on the spares available and the simplicity in the engine construction. For example, in a carbureted vehicle, LPG will work fine but in an MPFI modified car, it will be difficult as a pre-electronic control unit will be there

In going for LPG kit for used cars, some of the cars which are best suited are Maruti Esteem, Baleno, Ford Ikon, and the Mitsubishi Lancer.

3. Nowadays diesel engines are far better in performance than petrol engines. Example Hyundai Verna comes with 1.6 petrol, but the1.5 diesel performance is awesome. DICOR/CRDI engines are twice in performance compared to same capacity petrol engine. Please comment.

Yes, I agree that there is has been considerable improvement in diesel version cars in all makes including Verna. Taking petrol engines as benchmark, there has been continuous innovation within these engines to get their performance better and better.

At the same time, there is considerable increase in investment for owning the diesel version cars. We must therefore still compare the extra investment, mileage, cost of fuel, usage etc. Regardless of the performance, the advantage of diesel version cars can be effective only after long term usage say for about 20,000 KM.

4. As per my knowledge for Delhi users CNG is better than any fuel type. In Delhi, 65 to 70% of private vehicles are running on Dual mode (Petrol & CNG) - CNG for primary use and Petrol for emergency. CNG gives better mileage (1Rs. Per KM) and low maintenance. Environment friendly CNG is also better. So everybody should prefer CNG vehicles.

Yes, CNG versions are always more economical than the petrol versions with regard to the cost per KM. The main point here is the investment of around 40K for installing the CNG kit to the car. Again, by the time owner starts getting profit of going for CNG kit, he would have run at least 20K KM. By that time, there will be considerable increase in the maintenance cost of car due to frequent problems of lower pickup, cold starting etc. For this, one should consider the frequency of problems arising in cars fitted with LPG/CNG.

At the same time, the quality of these fittings keeps getting better and better, and surely, for anyone making significant use of the car, CNG is truly a good option.

5. I wanted to buy TATA Safari VX 2.2L. This is a Diesel version. Can it be converted to CNG?

You can always convert Safari VX to CNG. It’s bound to be cost effective in long run. Even buses running on diesel have been converted to CNG.

Apart from these questions, customers have also written in to share their experiences while going for LPG/CNG.

1. We read your article for CNG run cars and scooters. What we find difficult in the use of CNG is:

a. Infrastructure of CNG filling station. If any one has a list of CNG filling station all over India (at least on N.H. & S.H.), please share.

b. CNG tank takes a lot more space than petrol tank or LPG tank.

c. CNG kit is quite costly compared to the LPG kit, so additional cost is too high for less than regular run.

d. The tuning of both the kits along with petrol is cumbersome and costly too. I fitted my one petrol car with CNG and another car with LPG. Both are running OK. However, I find that compared to when it runs on petrol, it gives less fuel average, with CNG at 40% less and LPG 25% less. I have found and reconfirmed this more than twice.

e. For CNG you need to change spark plug and cable frequently to get proper result, and adjust your driving style, otherwise you will not find pleasure in driving. With LPG, it burns the spark plugs sometimes, resulting in overheating of the engine which may damage the engine gasket. My experience is that one needs frequent visits to the car mechanics and garage to keep the car in the proper condition.

2. Wagon-R Duo can be driven in Petrol or LPG. Since it is a factory fitted LPG system, it is very good, provided you get easy availability of LPG in your city.

LPG running cost will be approx Rs.1.15 per KM as compared to Rs. 3.30 for petrol. It is the lowest in running cost along with CNG. The difficulty is the availability and maintenance. It is environmentally the BEST. It may be slightly more costly than the Wagon-R Petrol. ,

3. Tata Xeta is value for money. It is having good space (Width 1665 mm) compared to any vehicle in that segment but the engine is noisy and it gives more vibration.

I run Xeta CNG and it costs me 1.5 -1.75 rs/km with AC in the city.

I think CNG is better than LPG in any vehicle. Decide yourself but CNG is always better than LPG.,

4. As such CNG is better than LPG, diesel and petrol but you should not fit a gas kit in an old vehicle. Moreover, you should be making enough KMs for it to make sense.

If possible buy a new vehicle of your choice and fit CNG kit. I have used Santro LPG. Now I am using Honda City CNG and Indica Xeta CNG.

In my view, in any vehicle LPG is better than diesel but CNG is better than LPG, petrol or diesel. My Honda runs 1 rs/km with AC on highway and my Xeta runs at 1.35 rs/km with AC on highway.

In CNG, pickup is less but they fit an advance timer circuit which gives pickup like a petrol car.

6. Though the authorized LPG kit providers like Lovato etc. have good servicing backup, the frequency of repairs for factory fitted versions like Santro Eco, Wagon R Duo is less than that fitted outside.

Of course, there are some exceptions. As far as Hyundai cars are concerned, fitting the LPG/CNG kit yourself is a breeze. Hyundai dealer offers the fitting himself and he will service it even if the kit is fitted from outside, so it will give good service provided maintained well.

7. I personally advise that the conversion of Ford to LPG/CNG, is welcoming trouble. Hence, do not plan such troubles.

I hope this article has helped the people who had unanswered questions. In conclusion, I would still say that, though the usage of alternative fuels is economical, the exact advantage and utility will differ for each make and model.

Hence, it is recommended to check for the suitability of alternative fuels for the specific car before going for fitment.

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