Petrol price hike accelerates CNG kit biz
Ahmedabad: Soaring prices of petrol have driven a rush in Ahmedabad to convert cars to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) — the conversion numbers have doubled from the pre-pandemic figures. With the petrol price almost touching the Rs 88 per litre-mark in the city, the CNG retrofitting market is abuzz with inquiries and conversions. In the pre-Covid era in Ahmedabad, on average, 30 vehicles were converted daily to use CNG instead of petrol. But ever since the pandemic-precipitated lockdown eased, the daily conversion figure reached 45. Now, as fuel prices rise, nearly 60 vehicles are converted every day. Apart from this, inquiries relating to BS VI vehicles have touched 100 a day in Ahmedabad. The RTO has still not given the approval to convert BS VI vehicles to use CNG. Amit Upadhyay, associated with a CNG retrofitting agency in the city, said, “We have been getting inquiries from people who had purchased their vehicles in 2020.” He added, “The car owners will have problems in making insurance claims if they convert their vehicles to use CNG without the RTO clearance.” Upadhyay said that inquiries have doubled since the fuel prices began increasing. “Earlier, we used to get two vehicles a day for conversion,” he said. “That number too has doubled.” Kuldeep Vora, another retrofitting dealer, said, “Post lockdown, people prefer using their own car over public transport. With offices re-opening and petrol prices at all-time high, higher travel cost is pinching, leading to a spike in the conversion numbers’ Manish Dave, another retrofitting dealer in the city, said people commuting long distances of 100km or more a day form a bigger chunk of conversion customers. Sudhir Shah, a resident of Satellite, who travels to Mehsana daily for work, bought a car post pandemic. He recently got the BS VI vehicle to run on CNG. “Earlier, my four friends and I used to travel together and share the costs. Post corona, all travel separately incurring huge travel cost. The CNG conversion agency has assured me that I can get the car registered after the rules are framed. I took the risk in the meanwhile.” Rajesh Manjhu, the commissioner of transport, said that for BS VI vehicles the ministry of road transport is yet to form emission norms. Officials at the Ahmedabad RTO said that the registration of such vehicles is not done because CNG-run BS VI vehicles require a special catalyzer which can only be factory-fitted. “The central government has to take a decision on whether to allow retrofitting and if those vehicles are BS VI-compliant.” Hiren Patel, who is in the bottled water business, said that he bought a small car in 2019 which he recently fitted with a CNG kit. “Due to skyrocketing petrol prices, my daily petrol bill had spiked to 600 which has now come down to Rs 250,” he said.