With a host of Indian cities including even non-metros like Allahabad and Gwalior, consistently ranking among the top for having highest pollution levels in the world, there is a dire need to find quick, lasting and more viable solutions for a more breathable air quality.
This is where the role of the auto industry gets even more significant. Auto makers must come forward and jump onto the Auto LPG bandwagon, They have got to play a role and complete the eco-system, which is unsustainable without them.
“The OEMs have a more than one reason to opt for this clean fuel. Auto LPG vehicles emit up to 120 times lesser particulate emissions than diesel vehicles, 96% lesser nitrogen dioxides (NOx) than diesel, 68% lesser NOx than petrol. In addition to this Auto LPG vehicles emit about 22% lower carbon dioxide (CO2) than petrol which is comparable to the CO2 emissions of CNG,” says Mr Suyash Gupta, Director General, Indian Auto LPG Coalition.
OEMs need to focus on this clean fuel keeping in mind factors other than pollution mitigation also. For example, Auto LPG can be taken from one city to another by tankers and sold through existing filling stations, unlike CNG that requires much more investment and significant gestation periods. All these factors contribute to a favorable ecosystem that is required for the growth of auto industry.
With air pollution taking a heavy toll on the health of the populace, focus and efforts by the government and judiciary to promote clean fuels shall continue. We have already seen some drastic measures being put in place by the government and by the Honourable Supreme Court in the recent past towards curtailing vehicular pollution. Supreme Court had ruled this year that vehicles not complying with Bharat Stage IV (BSIV) emission standards would not be sold after March 31st, 2017. Such measures will get only intensified and an OEM has to incorporate Auto LPG in its clean fuel strategy and actively work towards bringing cleaner fuel options to the consumers. The use of LPG as an automotive fuel became legal in India with effect from April 24, 2000. Since then more than 500 cities have been covered by Auto LPG with more than 1100 stations.
OEMs in India in the past have tasted success with Auto LPG. Maruti had very successfully offered LPG option on Wagon R and the same was well received by its customers. One particular reason why its customers were happy with this fuel option was that it was possible for them to quickly get a refill which may not be possible for CNG car owners as they take a lot of time to refuel. The time taken for an owner of Auto LPG vehicle is the same as that taken by an owner of petrol or diesel vehicle, says Mr Gupta.
Auto LPG can be a good fuel option even in two-wheelers which comprise bulk of the vehicle sales in the country. Sample this: 55 lakh two wheelers of the 85 lakh private vehicles in Delhi are bikes and contribute about 32 percent of the overall pollution level in the Capital, according to a recent study. The ratio is similar in other cities of the country. Auto LPG is best suited for motorcycles very well and can bring down the running cost of the two wheeler, an additional reason why the consumer will prefer Auto LPG motorbike over a petrol variant. Auto LPG prices are almost 50 percent of that of petrol in the country. The two wheeler OEM which start manufacturing Auto LPG bikes will gain tremendously from ‘First Mover Advantage’ and can have a real chance of penetrating deep into small-town and even village markets in the country.
Globally, more than 26 million vehicles run on Auto LPG supported by 71,000 LPG filling Stations. Around 70 countries spread over five continents are now using Auto LPG in vehicles to help clean their urban air and mitigate environmental hazards. Autogas is the third most used Automotive fuel globally, after Petrol and ‘carcinogenic’ Diesel. Some of the Asian countries have taken a lead in the use of Auto LPG like South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Russia, and China.