The fact that only a handful of cities in India currently have supply of CNG (compressed natural gas) for automotive use is an obvious deterrent for car buyers who are looking to buy vehicles factory-fitted with a CNG kit.
Most buyers of such cars in cities, where CNG stations currently vend this environmentally-friendly gas, are doing it either for meeting some mandatory regulation or to leverage the low cost of operating the vehicle. Yet, the beneficial impact on the environment and the city's ambient air quality can be good enough reason to extend the availability of this gas.
With more gas reserves being discovered within the country and with the supply infrastructure improving, more cities will get access to this alternate fuel.
In the meanwhile, foreseeing the potential, Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest passenger car maker has extended the dual-fuel technology in its cars to include more models in its range. The models include the SX4, Eeco, WagonR, Estilo and Alto. They are being launched in Delhi, NCR (national capital region), Mumbai and Gujarat.
These dual-fuel models now feature the company's flagship CNG engine technology called ?intelligent Gas-Port injection' and have been priced about Rs 45,000 to Rs 55,000 higher than their comparable petrol engine only counterparts.
According to Maruti, the i-GPI or Intelligent Gas Port Injection bi-fuel technology offers an intelligent drive, since it ensures more power vis-?-vis retro-fitted CNG vehicles and offers a peppier ride, which is at par with that of a regular petrol-fuelled engine, all the time achieving high fuel efficiency.
As has been the case in the past too, the factory fitted CNG vehicles score higher on safety and reliability vis-?-vis the aftermarket retro-fit kit options.
A company release said that Maruti Suzuki's CNG vehicles pass through all the quality checks, processes and systems similar to a regular car manufactured at MSIL's plants.
Maruti Suzuki R&D team has integrated the advanced Intelligent Gas Port Injection technology with the Company's range of engines and products to bring the benefits to buyers in newer car segments.
Compared to alternative aftermarket options, the i-GPI technology incorporates Dual ECU (Engine Control Unit) technology.
This highly reliable system delivers accurate amounts of gas to the engine thus ensuring improved and consistent performance under various driving conditions.
With CNG being a cheaper fuel, the running costs of these dual-fuel vehicles can be almost 60 per cent lower than the conventional fossil fuel alone options.
The i-GPI technology uses separate injectors for each cylinder. Based on feedback from and inputs from the ECU, a metered amount of CNG is injected to the engine through the gas ports.
The quantity of CNG required for different driving conditions is controlled by the dedicated ECU, leading to more efficient fuel usage.
Similar to the usual pre-launch evaluation, each of the cars with i-GPI CNG technology has been extensively tested for around two lakh kilometers in varied terrains.
In addition, over 3,000 hours of bench tests have validated the design and performance to bring this combination of performance and reliability for the customers.
As the CNG technology is factory fitted the customers will enjoy the full warranty benefits including extended warranty.