Vehicles powered by natural gas could account for almost 50 per cent of total vehicle sales provided the government put in place the necessary infrastructure required for the next decade. Nomura Research Institute (NRI), a global consultancy firm, in a report said that Maruti Suzuki (MSIL) and Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) could be the leading companies benefitting from the development.
The centre has unveiled an aggressive Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Plan of setting up 10,000 CNG stations over the next 10 years. Moreover, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has announced its plans to launch the 10th round of bidding for city gas distribution (CGD) later this month.
The bidding once over would result in extending CNG infrastructure to an additional 124 districts.
The report added that "these steps could also help achieve 50% sales penetration of natural gas vehicles by 2030, which in turn, has the potential to achieve crude oil import savings of Rs.11 lakh crore by 2030."
The Economic Times reported that Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor leads the market when it comes to selling CNG vehicles. The country's largest car maker has witnessed a rise in the CNG car sales as high a 50 per cent to more than 55,000 units in the first half of the financial year. Similarly, Hyundai also has registered a strong demand for the CNG powered variant of a small car, Santro that was launched last month.
One of the senior industry executives said that "the running cost of CNG vehicles is much lower compared to petrol and diesel options. However, lack of adequate distribution network has dampened demand."
Predominantly, CNG vehicles are sold in regions such as Delhi NCR and in selected cities in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. The number of CNG stations all across the country were 1,424 as of April.
The report highlighted that the natural gas infrastructure development plan has dual benefits of reducing crude oil imports and creating 400,000 new jobs. Likewise, the drivers of the light commercial vehicles who switch to CNG could see an increase in income by Rs 5000-8000 on a monthly basis.