CNG vs Petrol: What Should Be Your Pick?

'Saving', the ricocheted slogan of our troubled economy is not as simple a concept as it deems to be. The concept potentially entails a never ending discussion when spoken of generally; however, let us discuss it in association with another important facet of the increasingly busy lifestyle people 'dwell' in today, fuel and the automobile industry.

CNG VS Petrol

The general perception is that 'saving' and 'automobiles' juxtapose where an individual makes the decision of opting for a vehicle fuelled by 'compressed natural gas', or CNG. Whether this readiness is owed to the inherent power of the word of mouth or the lack of expertise in the industry is still a mystery. Nevertheless, it is vital to pay more attention to this uncalculated decision of getting CNG as a move towards monetary saving. On average, a CNG kit might cost 40k if it is installed as an addition to a petrol car, and getting a car with factory fitted CNG might be approximately 50k more expensive than the petrol version of the same car. What is important to consider here is the 'cost-benefit analysis' of this decision. Does the hefty sum paid for a CNG kit actually leave you with saving/benefit in the long term? I would doubt that; though not in all cases. A multitude of factors might determine this.

Let us start with the simplest yet most impactful factor, that is, the mileage of your car. Note that the saving must be done per KM; the difference between the mileage CNG and petrol provides will be the saving. This, however, is on the face of it. The amount of saving one entails on each KM means that the investment you made in the CNG kit is being recovered, and the more one's car runs, the faster this cost is recovered. The real saving begins after the investment one made is recovered. Interestingly, by the time this anticipated recovery is complete, the decision of going for the CNG kit might still not be a beneficial one.

The maintenance required by CNG cars is much more demanding and frequent relative to cars with petrol engines. It is also in a sense, urgent. If not attended to periodically then a CNG car might not really make someone's time worth the while he has undertaken in order to save; Time is money.

CNG cars also require an engine overhaul earlier than petrol cars, and require dedicated engines for optimal performance. Despite all of this, CNG engines may prove to be more economical. Prominently, they are contrastingly eco-friendly as well, as they cause minimal emissions and production of hydrocarbons. Although CNG comparatively produces an alarming amount of heat which might be harmful for the engine, it might also make the engine run quieter and cleaner.

Used and maintained properly, the CNG car might keep the engine healthy and environmentally friendly but the unique selling point of going for CNG rather than petrol, saving, is of a subjective nature.

Pubished in The Express Tribune on 3rd April 2011
Ahsan Ali | Suzuki Riaz Motors