Do CNG/LPG conversions on petrol cars make sense in 2015?

Snapshot – Smarting from rising fuel prices, car owners who didn’t want to stomach the added expense of going diesel jumped to CNG/LPG retro fitments on their petrol cars. Now though, prices of petrol  has cooled off considerably on the back of falling crude prices. LPG and CNG continue to be good options for folks wanting to keep running costs affordable but prices of these fuels have been climbing too. Today, we examine whether CNG/LPG retro fitments on petrol cars make any sense in 2015.

swift-amt

Scenario I

Consider this. You have a petrol powered car such as the Maruti Suzuki Swift. You own the ZXi variant of the car that uses the 1.2 liter K-Series petrol motor wigh 86 Bhp-113 Nm on tap. The car delivers a real time fuel efficiency of about 14 Kmpl in city conditions. You drive about 20 kilometers per day, totaling 600 kilometers per month on an average.

Petrol

What will be your monthly fuel costs? Taking New Delhi’s fuel prices (petrol price at 66.29 rupees) as a benchmark, you’ll have to pay around 2,850 rupees/month on fuel alone.

Does opting for a CNG/LPG make sense in this scenario?

CNG

Honda City CNG

A good quality CNG kit along with installation costs about 50,000 rupees. CNG costs 38 rupees/Kg. On CNG power, the Swift delivers a mileage of about 20 Kms/Kg. With a 10 Kg/60 liter CNG tank, the total range of the Swift is 200 kilometers per tank of CNG. Running costs? 1,140 rupees per month. So, the effective saving is around 1,700 rupees per month. Over 5 years, this translates into tidy savings of 50,000 rupees, factoring in the cost of CNG kit installation.

What are the trade offs? 

1. You lose pep. The Swift with the CNG kit loses around 15 % power and torque, making it somwehat sluggish with the air conditioner on. If you can live with this loss in pep, CNG makes sense.

2. You make additional trips to the fuel station. The petrol tank of the Swift is usually good enough to last nearly a whole month with a 600 kilometer monthly running. In case of CNG, you need to head to the fuel station once in a week. If the queues are long, you’ll lose more time refueling.

3. You lose luggage space because the CNG tank intrudes into the boot of the car.

4. Maintenance cost on CNG powered car is slightly higher than on petrol. Expect to spend about 6,000 more in a five year period on maintenance of a CNG powered car.

LPG

Maruti Suzuki WagonR LPG Duo

A good quality LPG kit with installation costs about 30,000 rupees. The kit is likely to feature a 30 liter tank that will give you an effective range of around 360 kilometers as the Swift on LPG has a mileage of around 12 Kmpl. LPG costs 37.9 rupees/liter and for a 600 kilometer monthly run, running costs will come to around 1,900 rupees. You will save about 950 rupees a month if you opt for LPG pver petrol. Over 5 years, total savings will come up to 54,000 rupees. Factoring in kit costs, the total savings would be about 24,000 rupees over 5 years.

What are the trade offs? 

1. Running your car on LPG will lead to a slight power loss of about 10 %.

2. Luggage space will be lost due to the boot being intrued by the LPG tank.

3. Maintenance costs will be slightly higher. Over a five year period, expect to spend about 6,000 rupees more than what you would on a petrol powered car.

Scenario II

You do 900 kilometers of driving each month.

Petrol

Monthly running costs on petrol for an average running of 900 kilometers will come up to around 4,300 rupees.

CNG

On CNG, running costs will be about 1,700 rupees, but this kind of running will involve more trips to the fuel station. Savings over 5 years will translate to around 1 lakh rupees, after deducting the cost of the kit and extra maintenance.

LPG

On LPG, the monthly running cost will come up to 2,840 rupees. Total savings over five years after factoring in kit installation and maintenance costs, will be about 50,000 rupees.

Scenario III

You do 1200 kilometers of driving each month.

Petrol

Monthly running costs on petrol for an average running of 1,200 kilometers will come up to around 5,700 rupees.

CNG

On CNG, running costs will be about 2,300 rupees, but this kind of running will involve nearly 6 trips to the fuel station. This may be impractical for many. Savings over 5 years will translate to around 1.5 lakh rupees, after deducting the cost of the kit and extra maintenance.

LPG

On LPG, the monthly running cost will come up to 3,800 rupees. Total savings over five years after factoring in kit installation and maintenance costs, will be about 80,000 rupees.

Scenario IV

You do 1,500 kilometers a month.

Petrol

Monthly running costs on petrol for an average running of 1,500 kilometers will come up to around 7,300 rupees.

CNG

Ruled out, as this will require too many trips to the fuel station.

LPG

On LPG, the monthly running cost will come up to 4,740 rupees. Total savings over five years after factoring in kit installation and maintenance costs, will be about 1 lakh 15 thousand rupees.

Scenario V

Maruti Suzuki Celerio Diesel 14

You do 2,000 kilometers a month. Go diesel!

The diesel variant of the Swift delivers around 18 Kmpl in real world conditions. Assuming a monthly running of 2,000 kilometers, total fuel costs come up to 5,808 rupees. On petrol, the same kind of running would cost you around 9,470 rupees. Your savings over five years would be a chunky 1.2 lakh rupees, after factoring in the additional cost of the diesel engined variant.