With rates of petrol and diesel gradually increasing, it has got even more difficult for the common man to just enjoy a simple drive in their car, without worrying about how it would affect their pockets. A mere commute to and from the office might seem like a luxury you can only afford so much.
Cabs booked online and in other ways prove to be quite expensive if done on a regular basis. Car pooling seems like a good option but it’s not always easy to coordinate with everyone, which begs for a better alternative. A CNG car solves all these problems.
Why shift to CNG?
Compressed natural gas is a better, cleaner and cheaper fuel, and with Maruti Suzuki launching its S–CNG range of cars, it seems like the right time to make the shift.
But why buy a factory fitted CNG car when you can get a CNG kit retrofitted to your regular car anytime you want? To begin with, there may be several places that offer fitments and services of CNG kits, but not all of them are safe. When the Delhi government in June 2016 banned retrofitted CNG kits, the concern of its credibility had became a major topic for debate. Even though the ban was revoked later in September 2016, the apprehension towards these kits was still very much present. The skepticism was not without reason, as many of the establishments that converted the cars to CNG were not authorized. In data released later that year, only 41 of the 2,000 such setups were found to be authorized. The fake CNG kits have a significant effect on the performance of the vehicles. There is also the risk of losing your car warranty if a third party installs the kit.
Maruti Suzuki is the first automobile company in India to introduce factory fitted CNG cars in its lineup. The company has sold around 500,000 CNG cars in India and has now brought the S–CNG (smart–CNG) technology in its entire range of factory fitted CNG cars. The S–CNG cars come in hatchback to sedan and MUV segments and are available in models like the Alto K10, Celerio, Wagon R, Ertiga, Tour S, etc.
Factory fitted vs. Retrofitted CNG
The factory fitted option is a better alternative because it ensures the longevity of your car. As CNG is a gas fuel, it does not have the lubricating qualities of its liquid counterparts like petrol and diesel. Hence, the engine components need to be designed keeping that in mind. The S–CNG technology does just that, as Maruti Suzuki is using specially designed valve seats and mounting parts in the cylinder heads, ensuring the longevity of the engine. Also, stainless steel pipes and ferrule joints are used to make a leak proof and corrosion resistant design.
Maruti has equipped every car with a micro switch which is there to ensure that the vehicle shuts off and does not start during the CNG fuel filling process. It also has an auto flip switch, which makes the switch between petrol and CNG really easy. The S–CNG range of vehicles has a precision level fuel indicator, and is equipped with an NGV receptacle which ensures a safer and faster refueling process.
Enhanced safety with factory fitted CNG
Moreover, each car has better ergonomics with factory fitted CNG as the additional load of a gas cylinder in retrofitted CNG puts extra pressure on the suspension of the car. The factory fitted car is made in such a way that it can carry this additional load and still run seamlessly, giving the driver an amazing experience.
These CNG cars are also calibrated in suspension, engine and vehicle dynamics by testing the cars under duress, such as by driving them through various terrains. As mentioned earlier, the design of the factory fitted variant is leak proof but the same cannot be said for the retrofit kits, as they mostly use cheap carbon steel to make pipes instead of stainless steel, which results in an inferior quality and can be more prone to leaks.
The car manufacturers get their entire range of cars approved by official authorities, whereas aftermarket supplies get only the CNG kit homologated. It can be a problem if it is used on engines with inferior quality than the car it was intended for. Due to this, not only is the performance of the car affected but it also harms the environment as an incorrectly tuned engine emits unburned methane in the atmosphere.
The S-CNG range by Maruti Suzuki has dual interdependent ECUs (electronic control unit) allowing it to achieve optimum execution. The company offers warranty and benefits that extend up to five years and the cars provide the best in class CNG mileage. Maruti Suzuki took a pioneering step by introducing the CNG range of cars in its lineup. The S-CNG technology has set a new benchmark in the green fuel market. Hopefully, more companies will take a leaf out of Maruti Suzuki’s book soon.