Diesel is cheaper than petrol, but petrol cars are cheaper than diesel powered ones. So what’s one supposed to do? Well, over the past decade, a rising number of car buyers have been opting for a petrol car with a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) kit fitted. Opinions vary. Some go gaga over the lower operating cost, while others crib about the reduced power. Some feel that CNG kits a blessing while others curse them soundly. With diesel fuel starting to get a bad name thanks to particulate matter and nitrous oxide emissions, the fuelling debate is turning back to petrol cars. But truth be told, even petrol powered vehicles aren’t the cleanest fuel-tech out there. Gas based solutions could offer us our best chance to not only clear the air, but give the coming generations a fighting chance to flourish.The debate is still raging over PETROL or CNG as the fuel of choice for a cleaner tomorrow and so, let’s delve a bit deeper into the situation, shall we?
The current drop in crude prices have made petrol cars attractive once again, but detractors say that alternate fuel options such as CNG make for a better choice. Typically speaking, CNG cars are priced in the range of 50-6000 INR higher than their equivalent petrol powered cousins. Add to this the allied interest & maintenance costs into the mix and some startling aspects come forward.
For example, a petrol powered car with a fuel efficiency figure of 15 km/l should cost approximately 2500 INR for 500 kilometres. The CNG powered variant on the other hand, costs an INR 1000 for the same distance. Bump up the distance covered to double, at 1000 kilometres & the amounts for both fuel solutions rise accordingly. But the moment the monthly distance covered crosses 1000 kilometres, something interesting happens.
CNG cars have a lower fuel capacity than petrol cars. So the former has to take more frequent stops. Petrol cars are still sprightlier and feel much more involving to drive than their wheezing CNG counterparts. Most CNG cars end up sacrificing precious boot-space to accommodate the additional fuel tank in comparison to their petrol counterparts.
The maintenance needs of CNG cars is much higher than their petrol only cousins. Given how the motors used in cars today are designed to burn liquefied petroleum, CNG being a gas, burns cleanly, thereby accelerating wear & tear due to lack of lubrication.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Petrol and CNG Cars
Advantages of buying a Petrol Car:
- Pick Up – If you want smoother operation, quietness, good acceleration, power and good pick up than you should go for Petrol engines
- Cost of Maintenance – Petrol Car engines require lower maintenance compared to CNG Cars. This is because petrol burns at a lower flashpoint than CNG.
- Cheaper cars – The cost of Petrol cars is the lowest in the category and are most durable cars with a life of 10-12 years or above.
- Distribution of Petrol – Most people prefer Petrol cars and so Demand of Petrol Cars have increased due to which getting petrol is much easier than CNG.
Disadvantages of buying a Petrol Car:
- Mileage – Compared to other variant cars like CNG and Diesel cars, petrol cars give lower mileage as petrol burns quicker than other fuels.
- Increasing Price – Price of Petrol is generally high as compared to CNG and other fuel variants as the demand of petrol cars is increasing and the supply is low (Petrol is also much cleaner compared to diesel, so it is much more costlier to produce)
- Lower resale value – Being durable in nature, petrol cars have low resale value because of its high cost.
Advantages of buying a CNG Car:
- Cheaper Fuel – CNG is much cheaper in price as compared to Petrol. This can be attributed to the abundant supply of natural gas.
- Lower cost of running – CNG Cars provide the lowest cost per km across all fuel types (petrol, diesel, LPG and CNG).
- Environmentally friendly – CNG Cars are more environmentally friendly, as it is completely combusted and produces a clean exhaust gas unlike Petrol Cars which has high carbon emission.
- We also have the option of company fitted CNG kits for few cars, which means the warranty is extended to the CNG kits as well. Also it means the user can seamlessly switch between CNG and petrol as and when needed.
Disadvantages of buying a CNG Car:
- Pickup – CNG is well known for its pickup issues as CNG fitments suffer a slight lack of initial pickup.
- Cost of CNG Kit – Installation of CNG kit is bit expensive, as it requires an initial investment of Rs. 50,000/- separately. This includes the modification of car engine and starting investment accordingly.
- Extra Weight – CNG Kit adds extra weight to your car which may lower your overall car’s performance. Space is also consumed by the kit which directly reduces the luggage space.
- Insurance – Cars with CNG kits have a higher insurance premium as compared to petrol or diesel cars.
- Number of Gas Stations – Refilling of CNG in car can be a tedious process as there are very few CNG Stations and one can always expect a long queue every time.
- Higher Maintenance: CNG cars require higher maintenance and requires frequent changes of air filters, spark plugs and CNG cartridges As mentioned earlier, CNG burns at a higher flashpoint than petrol. So the spark plugs degrade over time, lubricant deteriorates quicker, and the higher temperature and pressure mean the gasket changes will be more frequent.
- Low capacity of CNG cylinder: The tank typically holds only about 10-12 kg of CNG. So the car will require frequent trips to the gas station if the average running is more (If the running is >2000 kms per month, the car will need to refill every two to three days, which is not feasible)