Maryti, Hyundai, M&M to make CNG-powered vehicles

With the availability of compressed natural gas expected to double by the year-end, both India's leading carmakers have confirmed plans to launch CNG-powered vehicles.

These include market leader Maruti Suzuki, home-grown truck and SUV leader Mahindra & Mahindra.

In India Hyundai Motors' bi-fuel Santro and Accent are available in LPG and CNG variants.

Gas-powered cars have long enjoyed a niche market in India, where fuel economy is more important than power or performance. However, lack of refuelling infrastructure has prevented their spread, and most of those on the road today are retooled versions of existing models.

As Reliance Industries starts pumping more gas from its Krishna-Godavari block, India's supply of natural gas is likely to go up to 200 mmscmd by this year, with 80 mmscmd flowing from the K-G basin. With the focus on more eco-friendly cars, refuelling infrastructure is also likely to improve, especially in the metros.

I V Rao, managing executive officer (engineering), Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) has been quoted as saying that the company was developing engines that would run on CNG. "By early 2010, we will introduce CNG-driven cars in each of the segments in which we operate,'' Rao said.

Rao added that Maruti Suzuki is in talks with RIL and state-run monopoly Gas Authority of India Ltd, the producer and transporter of gas, on the subject.

He also said that earlier the company was focussed on liquefied petroleum gas, now CNG seemed to be the fuel of the future. He also said that the running cost of CNG-enabled cars would be lower than that of even LPG cars and thus make up for being a little costlier.