Maruti accelerating CNG drive as fuel prices soar

Maruti Suzuki India

Maruti Suzuki India


The company plans to launch 4 new CNG models soon in addition to EV in Indian market by 2025

New Delhi: With rising petrol and diesel prices driving up demand for its CNG vehicles, the country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India plans to widen its CNG portfolio by offering the fuel option in four more models very shortly, according to a senior company official.

The company, which plans to launch an electric vehicle (EV) in the Indian market by 2025, is also currently keeping a close watch on the country's EV ecosystem "to find out what is the best way of evolution" to be able to offer affordable EVs with hassle free charging infrastructure in order to clock high volumes for a sustainable business. "Currently we have eight models, which have CNG options out of our total of 14 models, but we plan to add another four very shortly in this portfolio," Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales) Shashank Srivastava. Going forward, he said,"We will try to develop more and introduce more CNG models." Srivastava, however, declined to share details and timelines for introducing new CNG models.

He said the rise in petrol and diesel prices has accelerated the demand for CNG vehicles and out of the company's total current pending order of 2.8 lakh units, due to the semiconductor shortage, 1.1 lakh orders are for CNG models. "The running costs for a petrol or diesel has climbed up to almost Rs 5 a kilometer whereas, for CNG it still remains around Rs 1.7 per kilometer. The running cost is so different now that a petrol or diesel vehicle is three times as expensive to run (as compared to) a CNG vehicle. That I think is the number one reason for people suddenly switching to CNG," Srivastava said.

Besides, there has been an expansion of the network of CNG filling outlets across the country over the years thereby making the fuel option accessible to more vehicle owners. "Now, we have almost 3,400 (CNG outlets) now covering about 260 cities as against just a couple of years back, when it was about 1,500 covering only 150 cities," he said. The availability of factory fitted CNG options has also helped in accelerating the demand for such vehicles by addressing the earlier apprehensions that customers had regarding performance, maintenance and safety. Commenting on the company's plans for launching EV, he said as had been announced earlier it will be by 2025 but did not share details.

With the challenges of offering affordable EVs, charging infrastructure and addressing range anxiety issues still there on the way to mass adoption of electric mobility in India, Srivastava said MSIL is keeping a close watch. "I think this (EV) is a very new thing happening in our country, it is really evolving. So we are watching the situation very closely and trying to find out what is the best way of evolution in that direction," he said, adding in order to have a sustainable EV business model, he said there must be high volumes for which the vehicle has to be reasonably priced as India is a very price sensitive market. On Wednesday, MSIL Chairman RC Bhargava had stated that the company would like to sell around 10,000 units a month whenever it enters the electric mobility space.

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