Mercedes India dumps plan for CNG model: report

Mercedes Benz has reportedly dropped plans to market natural gas-fuelled vehicles in India because it feels its high-status owners would not want to rub shoulders with auto-rickshaws and taxis at petrol stations, as CNG refuelling facilities are still limited.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) may be cleaner and greener, but it isn't worth the trouble if getting the fuel involves mingling with the hoi polloi in cabs, the head of said.

''Do you want to be in a long list of three-wheelers to finally get to the filling station and wait till your tank is filled? That will be long waiting for our customers,'' Mercedes-Benz India managing director and chief executive Wilfried Aulbur told The Economic Times.

The company has the necessary technology and was testing a CNG variant of its popular E-Class up to last year, the paper said. According to estimates, the CNG version's mileage would have been 18-20 km per kg of CNG, costing Rs21. Petrol sells at Rs44.63 per litre in Delhi. However, the plans have now been shelved.

At the same time, for a car priced at Rs28 lakh, more Indian customers prefer the diesel variant of the E-class, which is said to account for about 60 per cent of sales of the model in India. This no doubt shows that even wealthy Indians are unusually cost-conscious.

BMW, Mercedes' biggest rival in the Indian luxury market, also says the country is not yet ready for cutting-edge green technologies.

(Also see: Mercedes Benz launches special edition of model C-class series)