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Maruti Suzuki is encouraging the use of CNG as a cleaner and greener fuel until the switch is made to electric cars. The automotive industry in India is going through a phase of change at the moment.
On one end, there is a slowdown in the industry and on the other is the push for green mobility and electric vehicles. Adding to this is the whole process of transitioning into the BS-VI era. Maruti Suzuki is trying to make sense amidst all this.
One might think that the company is making this move to keep sales going despite discontinuation of a few diesel models after BS-VI emissions norms kick in. However, Maruti Suzuki seems to be looking at the bigger picture.
According to Economic Times, the push for CNG-powered cars is to reduce import of oils into India, and it is also to promote cleaner and greener mobility. Maruti Suzuki also expects the sales of CNG and Hybrid vehicles to increase once diesel variants are discontinued.
RC Bhargava, the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki was quoted as saying, "All small cars in our portfolio will get converted to CNG. There is an acceptance from the government that CNG is a cleaner fuel, and it is being accepted for transportation. They are setting up 10,000 CNG distribution outlets."
The government had recently announced the setting up of 10,000 CNG outlets. It is not the first time that the government has openly proven its belief that CNG is an environment-friendly fuel. When the air pollution levels in Delhi started spiralling out of control, the government directed all commercial vehicles to be retrofitted with CNG kits.
Several CNG filling stations soon came up, and CNG vehicles' sales went up by a large margin. Maruti Suzuki is the largest manufacturer of CNG-powered passenger cars. CNG-powered vehicles currently account for 7 percent of Maruti Suzuki's overall sales. 31,000 such vehicles were sold in the first quarter of FY2019-2020.
What makes it interesting is that, the sales of CNG cars depends on the availability of the fuel. In Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat, nearly 30 percent of the sales of a model is attributed to the CNG variant thanks to the easy availability of CNG.
The government plans to increase CNG availability with the proposed 10,000 outlet plan and Maruti Suzuki is going hand-in-hand with that plan by planning to launch CNG variants of all its small cars.
Maruti Suzuki has the largest number of hatchbacks and small cars in its portfolio. At the moment, the CNG option is available with the Maruti Suzuki Alto, Alto K10, WagonR, Celerio, DZire Tour S, Eeco and Super Carry.
The Celerio X, Swift and Swift DZire are the small cars left out from the CNG bandwagon. The CNG-powered variant of the new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga too has been awaited by many. Maruti Suzuki also aims to reduce the import of oil into the country by increasing the use of CNG. Increased usage of CNG could save up to Rs 2 lakh crore in oil import expenses.
Thoughts On Maruti Suzuki Launching CNG Variants Of All Its Small Cars
There is no doubt about CNG being the cleanest fuel for internal combustion engines at the moment. Electric cars and hybrids are available in the market, but they cannot be used for mass market applications yet thanks to their expensive price tags.
CNG is the way to go when diesel engines are cut off during the transition to pure electrics and hybrids. Maruti Suzuki has realised that this is especially true for small cars and is hence encouraging the sale of CNG-powered vehicles with factory-fitted CNG kits.