New Delhi: Alternative, more affordable fuels seem to be the flavour of the month for Hyundai Motor India's (HMIL) trip to the Auto Expo '08.
HMIL is set to launch the LPG variants of its most popular models, the Santro, Getz, and Accent, by March 2008, according to reports.
Company sources too indicate that Hyundai Motor India will be ''showcasing the LPG variant of Santro, Getz and Accent during the Auto Expo, with their commercial launch expected by March.''
For now, Hyundai sells a solitary CNG variant of the Santro in the alternative fuel category, doing volumes of around 500 units a month that are weighed down considerably due to the limited availability of CNG across Indian cities. CNG is available in cities such as Hyderabad, Agartala, Vadodara, Kanpur, Lucknow, Delhi and Mumbai.
LPG on the other hand, has a more pervasive nationwide reach. According to the industry, there are around 385 LPG dispensing stations across 148 cities in India. More importantly, LPG dispensing stations are also mushrooming around highways, particularly the Golden Quadrilateral project, to facilitate longer range movement vehicles driven on the fuel.
Besides the price of petrol and diesel, driven sky high by oil prices in the range of $100 a barrel, safety is another feature that is driving consumer preference towards driving on natural gas.
With the cost of natural gas being lower than petrol and diesel so as to translate into palpable saving, the popularity of vehicles running on these fuels is growing. A vehicle running on LPG is usually able to give 90 per cent of the mileage, at about 50 to 60 per cent of the costs, resulting in at least 40 per cent savings in running costs.
Additionally, given the problem of adulterated fuel, CNG and LPG, both of which are stored and dispensed under pressure, are difficult to adulterate, or steal. Not to forget, CNG and LPG are virtually pollution free, compared to petrol and diesel.
Market leader Maruti was the first off the blocks in offering LPG on its Omni and Wagon-R Duo models. Presently, Minda Autogas supplies kits to both MAruti as well as Hyundai Motor India. Minda's LPG kits are fitted in Maruti's Wagon R Duo, while its CNG kits are fitted in the CNG Santro.