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Business – MUL plans India’s first petrol-CNG dual fuel engine

Chanchal Pal Chauhan

NEW DELHI: Engineers at Maruti Suzuki’s R&D centre in Gurgaon are close to developing the country’s first dual-fuel engine running on Petrol & CNG,that will shrink a vehicle’s fuel bill to a fourth making it one of the cheapest to run anywhere in the World.

The optimism is palpable at India’s No 1 carmaker, whose technicians are close to developing an engine that will use multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) technology in CNG mode — just as it does in petrol mode — eliminating loss of power and efficiency associated with current retro-fitted CNG engines.

Externally fitted to petrol engines, today’s CNG kits supply fuel in a single flow, thus losing out on the benefit of multi-point nature of the engine. So, the new engine will bring a marked change in the way CNG-fuelled cars run on MPFI technology that revolutionised petrol car driving at the beginning of this century. For an average car driver, this means better pick up and, above all, huge savings in fuel bills.

This is how the technology works. In the engine being developed by Maruti Suzuki, the gas will be injected into the engine through multiple points, leading to better utilisation of fuel. The gas injectors will be integrated into the engine to directly spray the CNG, leading to higher pick up and reduction in consumption.
This will result in CNG-run cars displaying higher power just like the new-generation petrol cars, dispelling the belief that CNG-fuelled vehicles are slow and fail to perform at high speeds. This new breed of CNG-fired engines will reduce running cost to a fourth compared to petrol cars, translating into one of the lowest fuel bills in the world. Today, a CNG kit is externally fitted to an engine after the car is dispatched from the factory, mostly at company dealerships. All CNG cars in the market such as the Maruti Alto, Hyundai Santro, Hyundai Accent and Toyota Innova have CNG kits attached to the engine externally.

Improved burning of fuel in Maruti Suzuki’s new engines will decrease emission and qualify them for Bharat Standard-IV emission norms that will be in force from April 1, 2010. What may work against the new technology is the extra price that customers will have to pay for cars strapped with the new engines. “We will import injectors currently not available locally and are expensive,” said IV Rao, managing executive officer for engineering at Maruti Suzuki. “We are working on a totally different technology to adapt the engine for dual use with petrol and CNG as auto fuels,” he added.

Maruti Suzuki invested in dual-fuel engines after market feedback convinced the company that hybrid and electric cars are not feasible due to their high price tags that led to low customer interest.

Recently, Honda had to sell 350 units of imported hybrid Civic cars at a massive discount after Indian customers refused to pay the high price of the expensive technology. As for electric cars, Bangalore-based Reva Electric has managed to sell only a few hundred units in the country due to problems in charging these cars. While the availability of CNG is likely to increase in the next few years, Maruti Suzuki is negotiating with major suppliers such as RIL and Gail to widen the network of pipelines and increase CNG availability.

“CNG is the future as it is expected to be easily available across the country. Besides being the cheapest, it is the most adaptable auto fuel in current circumstances,” said Mayank Pareek, executive officer for marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki.

This comes after government announced plans to widen the CNG supply network to 202 cities in the next few years, covering nearly 50% of the vehicle population in the country. Currently, CNG is available in select cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Surat, Agra and Kanpur, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.

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October 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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