An engine overhaul and an emergency fuel tank: How diesel-run cars switch to CNG

Sarah Hafeez explains what exactly a diesel car owner has to do to switch to the cleaner fuel

Written by Sarah Hafeez | New Delhi | Updated: May 1, 2016 4:56 am
There are 170 RF centres approved by the Delhi government, according to latest figures available on the government website. There are 170 RF centres approved by the Delhi government, according to latest figures available on the government website.

Sarah Hafeez explains what exactly a diesel car owner has to do to switch to the cleaner fuel

How can the owner of a diesel-run car convert the vehicle to CNG?

For a car to be converted from diesel to CNG, one can purchase a CNG retro-fit (RF) kit. In the open market, kits cost between Rs 26,000-32,000, depending on their Euro ratings. ‘Conventional’ kits for Euro III vehicles cost Rs 26,000 and ‘sequential’ kits for Euro IV vehicles cost Rs 32,000. Most of these kits are imported from countries like Argentina, Italy, New Zealand and Poland, though a few made-in-India kits are also available in the market.

Where does the process of conversion take place?

Most dealers of RF kits are fitters as well. The total cost of purchase and fitting ranges from Rs 60,000 to over Rs 1 lakh, depending on the vehicle. There are 170 RF centres approved by the Delhi government, according to latest figures available on the government website.

What happens when a diesel-run car converts to CNG?

Changing a diesel-run car to a CNG means changing its engine completely to another system. A cylinder has a 50 litre water-carrying capacity, capable of carrying approximately 9 kg of CNG, allowing a drive of about 150 km for a medium-sized car. It is also fitted with a 5-litre fuel tank for petrol in case of an emergency shortage of gas. This ensures that in such a scenario, the driver can switch to petrol and continue driving.

What if you don’t want to convert your diesel-run vehicle?

The only option you have is to sell the old vehicle and get a new one, which is retro-fitted with a CNG kit. You can get a factory-fitted CNG vehicle from outlets like Maruti, where the cost of fitting is between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. However, car owners say it is difficult to sell diesel-run vehicles, especially those older than two years, due to the ban.

How long does the conversion to CNG take?

It takes about a week to install a RF kit. This is considerably shorter than the three months it earlier took to complete the process. Car owners then approach the Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Burari, where RTO officials check the vehicle and its relevant documents, before issuing a CNG registration certificate. The registration process at RTO takes about a month.

The CNG fitting centres have started catering to an increasing number of consumers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s orders against diesel-run cabs, and the odd-even scheme’s rules. “Our sales went up by over four times in a span of 20 days, between December 16, 2015, and January 5, 2016. We usually fit CNG kits in 20 cars but in that period, as many as 90 car owners came to us for RF kits,” said Haider.

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