Get smart: Run your luxury car as cheap as a hatchback

One good thing about the used car market in India is that you can get some really expensive luxury cars at almost throw away prices, because some of them depreciate really fast. The primary reason for their depreciation is their poor fuel economy on petrol – but yet, these cars are great to own for their luxury features.

run luxury cars on lpg or cng for savings

CarToq picks out four deals from the used car market, which you can pick up and convert to run on LPG or CNG as the case may be. These are basically luxury petrol SUVs and cars that are sure-fire head turners.

Honda Accord V6

honda accord photo

The Honda Accord comes in two variants – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol and a sporty 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol. The latter is very sporty, but also really thirsty, with an average fuel consumption of about 6-7 kmpl of petrol. The car puts out 272 bhp of power with a five-speed automatic/tiptronic transmission. This car was preceded by a 3-litre V6 that is almost as good. It put out 240 bhp of power.

If you scour used car deals on the Internet and in the market, you will see good deals on the Honda Accord. A five-year old Honda Accord V6 with about 50,000 km on the odometer sells for about Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 6 lakh. That’s a pittance for a car that cost Rs. 25 lakh when new.

Adding a sequential CNG kit would add another Rs. 60,000 to the cost of the car. Running an Accord on CNG gives a mileage of about 10 km per Kg of CNG, which would translate to a running cost of Rs. 3.85 per kilometer, as against a running cost of Rs. 11.40 on petrol (especially for the V6 Accord).

Even if you factor in a 20% drop in power because of the conversion to CNG, you still have more than enough power and torque on the Accord than most other premium sedans.

Maruti Grand Vitara

maruti suzuki grand vitara photo

The Maruti Vitara is a very capable SUV, but its only failing is that it runs on petrol and gives a claimed mileage of about 10.9 kmpl, with real-world mileage of about 8-9 kmpl on a good day. The Vitara is powered by a 2.4 litre petrol engine that puts out 164 bhp of power and 225 Nm of torque. It comes with a full-time four-wheel drive system with a low-ratio gearbox, making it a very competent off-roader as well. Sadly, it sells an abysmal 1 to 2 units a month only!

However, there are a few good ones available in the second-hand market at really juicy prices. The Vitara costs Rs. 16 lakh to Rs. 18 lakh ex-showroom (one manual, one automatic). However, in the used car market you can pick up a five-year-old Maruti Vitara with 45,000 km on the odometer for about Rs. 6 lakh. The Vitara has a huge boot that will safely allow conversion to CNG or LPG. Running a Vitara on CNG at an estimated mileage of 10 km per Kg of CNG, will give it a running cost of Rs. 3.85 a kilometer compared to running a Vitara on petrol which is about Rs. 8.50 per kilometer.

Say the Vitara loses about 20% of its power after conversion it still will be as powerful as a Skoda Yeti or a Mahindra XUV500 in terms of engine power. That’s enough to get to places in style.

Honda CR-V

honda cr-v photo

The Honda CR-V is another popular SUV that is notorious for losing value in the resale market thanks to its poor fuel economy. The Honda CR-V is powered by a 2.4 litre engine that puts out 159 bhp of power and 218 Nm of torque. It comes in both manual and automatic transmission options. There’s also a cheaper 2WD variant with a 2-litre engine, but that is relatively newer.

In the used car market, a six-year old Honda CR-V with 50,000 km on the odometer sells for about Rs. 6 lakh, while slightly newer ones go for about Rs. 8 lakh. The Honda CR-V has a claimed mileage of 11 kmpl, but in real world conditions it gives only about 7-8 kmpl. This makes it very expensive to run on petrol. Converting it to CNG would give it a mileage of about 10 km per Kg of CNG, translating to a running cost of Rs. 3.85 per kilometer as against Rs. 9.70 per km on petrol.

Even with a slight loss in engine power, the CR-V should still retain all its other benefits such as comfort and handling, and doesn’t lose out on space as it has a fairly large boot to accommodate a CNG cylinder.

Toyota Camry

new toyota camry photo 2

The Toyota Camry is like a luxury barge, but sadly isn’t that popular in the Indian market. Toyota has just launched an update Camry recently. The older Camry holds its resale value quite well, although it too depreciates slightly faster than a diesel car in the same price bracket. The Camry has a claimed mileage of 12 kmpl, and gives a fairly good 9 kmpl in daily conditions. It is fairly expensive at Rs. 24 lakh on-road.

A five-year-old Camry can be bought for about Rs. 8.5 lakh, while a six-year-old car would fetch about Rs. 7 lakh. The Camry has a fairly large boot which can easily accommodate a CNG cylinder. Converting it to CNG would give the Camry a running cost of about Rs. 3.85 per kilometer, compared to Rs. 7.60 per kilometer on petrol.

The Camry puts out 165 bhp of power from its 2.4 litre petrol engine, and even after losing some of it after conversion to CNG, it still has enough power to get about the city at a much lower running cost.

Points to consider

All the vehicles listed above will need ARAI-approved sequential CNG kits from a reputed manufacturer. The kits should meet the norms for emission, safety and installation as specified under Rule 115 of the CMVR. Once you get the kit installed, there are forms available with your installer which will have to be submitted to the RTO to get the fuel change endorsed in the RC book. If a particular kit is not in the list from ARAI the vehicle will have to be left with a testing agency for final approval, but installers usually get pre-approved kits only.

Share any thoughts you have on converting such luxury cars to CNG for low running costs with the CarToq community.