Maruti Suzuki is reportedly shifting its focus to produce vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG). The brand is looking to increase the number of CNG vehicles in its lineup; which will certainly take a hit once the BS6 emission norms become mandatory, given the manufacturer’s decision to discontinue its entire diesel range. The manufacturer currently offers various bi-fuel petrol-CNG vehicles in the country.
However, it is also considering developing pure-CNG models in the distant future. Bi-fuel CNG models use the same spark-ignition system like a regular petrol unit but are re-calibrated to run on either of the fuels at any given time. A weak network of CNG filling stations in the country means that pure-CNG vehicles are not making it to production anytime soon.
However, Dharmendra Prasad, Petroleum Minister confirmed the government’s plans to have 10,000 CNG stations in the next 5 years. C V Raman, Senior Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s Senior Executive Director, CV Raman believes that the government’s inclination towards cleaner vehicles will pave the way for pure-CNG vehicles, but since proper refilling infrastructure is only available in metro cities, it is still a thing of the future.
Raman said in a statement, “the (network of) CNG stations are still growing. So customer anxiety is still there and so a buyer would prefer a bi-fuel car. Ultimately, the people using CNG are using it also for the economics and it does make a lot of difference in terms of running costs. It has the lowest running costs. So if they have that, they should also have the peace of mind to, when they go out of Delhi or something like that, they are still able to run the vehicle.”
“If a lot of stations are there, then the range anxiety is not there and the queues are not there. The people can look at a dedicated CNG, so to speak. From an economics point of view, it’s very good,” he further added. Interestingly, Maruti Suzuki is the leading manufacturer to offer bi-fuel vehicles in the country and has managed to sell over 5 lakh units of its CNG vehicles.