Whatever the odds stacked against the odd-even scheme rolled out by the Delhi state government to curb air pollution, a positive fallout has been the rise in the instances of CNG conversions from petrol-engined cars in the capital city.
Registration of vehicles after being retro-fitted with CNG kits rose by 15-20 percent during the recent implementation of phase II of the odd-even scheme with about 200 conversions to CNG witnessed against 150 reported on routine days, Anil Chhikara, auto expert and government official in the Transport Department, told Autocar Professional.
In terms of new sales of OE-fitted CNG vehicles, a major impact was not visible as this segment has been growing 20 percent annually for the past 2-3 years. About 150 registrations of factory fitted CNG cars are noted by the Transport Department on an average every day and these were more or less on track while the odd-even scheme was underway between 15-30 April as well. Hence the rise is more gradual and based on shifting customer preferences.
Interestingly, the front runners for the CNG retrofitment were small cars going upwards to the midsize segment with a sticker price of up to Rs 7 lakh where the Hyundai i10, Santro, Honda Jazz, Amaze and even the City were in the forefront.
Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest carmaker, has a stable of 6 models available with a CNG option – the Alto, Alto K10, Celerio, Wagon R, Eeco and the Ertiga. These are already selling large CNG volumes in the capital. Maruti sold over 59,800 units of its CNG fleet in 2015-16 compared to 58,000 units in FY 2014-15. The Wagon R takes the lead with sales of over 29,000 units, followed by the Eeco with over 11,000 units.
The Maruti Celerio, Baleno and Vitara Brezza along with the Swift and Wagon R are believed to be more popular in the Delhi market compared to the Alto siblings as the socio-economic standard of the people is higher and hence their preference for upgrading to the premium B segment upward cars. The Alto is more popular in the Tier 2 and 3 towns.
Further, the actual CNG consumption in Delhi-NCR is about 25 lakh kg per day and ahead of the ban on diesel and petrol engine cabs in the region from May 1, the Petroleum Ministry had inaugurated 36 new CNG stations with a total capacity of about 2.3 lakh kg per day.
The first city to adopt CNG in the country, the Delhi-NCR possesses about 34 percent of the total 1026 CNG stations in the country. The region has about 347 CNG dispensing stations of about 77 lakh kg per day capacity. The four CNG dispensing companies in the region -Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indraprastha Gas plan to augment this capacity to 88 lakh kg per day by developing 104 CNG stations going forward.
Sources point out that the demand supply of CNG in the capital does not match and on any given day there are 30-50 cars queued up even at night outside a CNG station. This calls for immediate action to remove the anomaly.
Meanwhile a tete-a-tete with the CNG retrofitters throws some more light on the CNG fitment scenario in the Delhi-NCR. The New Delhi-based Namdhari Auto Engineering Works retrofitted around 25-30 cars during the 15 days that the odd-even scheme ran. Ranjit Namdhari, owner of the fitment centre, says around 2,500-3,000 retrofitment instances were undertaken in the region during this period overall. The CNG kit costs Rs 30,000 upwards at his centre and takes about 5-6 hours for a CNG conversion from petrol.
On the other hand Aapka Karkhana another retrofitment centre based in Janakpuri had about 2-3 customers for the CNG conversion. They offer two types of CNG kits, one the manual variety and the second the sequential one to meet BS-IV emission norms. The first one is fitted in cars manufactured before 2010 and the second is for cars produced after 2010.
Clearly, the CNG scenario at the grassroots level has enough scope to improve further if it has to meet the burgeoning demands of the Delhi-NCR region.
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