Alto, WagonR and SX4 will be some of the top-selling Maruti Suzuki models to sport a CNG engine this year as India’s largest car maker looks at alternate fuel technology to build a more eco-friendly fleet for the Indian market.
Aiming to retain its 50 percent market share, Maruti will launch new CNG-fired versions of these cars that will be priced at a premium of around 15-20 per cent. All these cars will come with a new technology that will be factory-fitted, unlike most other petrol cars in India which are retrofitted.
“It’s our answer to green technology that will also be most fuel-efficient auto fuel in India, blending the benefits of gasoline engine power at the cost of the CNG,” said IV Rao, managing executive officer (engineering) at Maruti Suzuki.
Maruti is using an in-house developed i-GPI (intelligent gas port injection) technology that will give the option of driving with either petrol or CNG as fuel. It will be the only factory-fitted computer controlled gas distribution system to be integrated into the petrol engines using injectors to fire gas directly into engine eliminating any loss of power.
Car makers at present use venturi type CNG technology in cars like the Hyundai Accent, Chevy Spark and Toyota Innova. It faces around 15 per cent loss of power when these cars are driven on CNG. Maruti will import the injectors from the U.S., which will make the products dearer but still less than the hybrid cars in India. The ex-showroom price of Toyota’s Prius in Delhi is Rs 26.5 lakh. Maruti preferred to use CNG as a fuel for i-GPI as it is cheaper than electric and other forms of hybrid engines.
Analysts tracking the sector remain optimistic on the CNG fuel strategy adding volumes for Maruti. “Initiatives from the government in the form of better availability of alternative fuels and tax rebates on green technology would push up sales,” said Sumit Arora, associate director at Synovate Motoresearch.