Auto LPG: best bet for cleaner air

At a time when pollution has started reaching epidemic proportions, quick but lasting solutions need to be found. Towards this end, the role of clean automotive fuels simply cannot be ignored.

Close to 1,000 cars and about 48,000 two-wheelers are sold every day in the country and this number is rising steadily given the growing appetite for vehicles among Indians. More families are turning nuclear which will further increase the need for vehicles. This, once again, brings back the focus to the type of fuel used in these vehicles.

Tangible electric alternatives being years away, and with 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world belonging to India, according to the WHO, the choice of fuel is automatically restricted to cleaner fuels like the auto LPG and CNG.

As a means to tackle the growing pollution problem, the government has decided to allow sales of only electric vehicles in the country from 2030 onwards. Even the judiciary is doing its bit for environment protection. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had decided to stop the sales of vehicles complying with the BS-III fuel norms from April 1, 2017.

These measures need to be augmented with more lasting and viable solutions for the benefit of the people. If all vehicles sold in the country by 2030 have to be electric, India will be emitting more CO2 eventually since about 68% of all power produced in India is produced by burning fossil fuel. Here, auto LPG can play a very important role in achieving the target of pollution mitigation.

Pragmatic choice

Auto LPG is win-win for the consumer as well as the society. A big advantage for an auto LPG customer is that it takes only as much time to tank up as it takes in case of a petrol or diesel car. Another advantage is that the auto LPG kits are smaller and compact and can be placed in the well of the boot easily.

Auto LPG emits up to 120 times lesser particulate emissions than diesel vehicles, 96% lesser nitrogen dioxides (NOx) than diesel and 68% lesser NOx than petrol. Also, auto LPG emits about 22% lower carbon dioxide (CO2) than petrol. At the same time, it is much cheaper than petrol, diesel and CNG.

While emissions from two-wheelers are major culprits for poor urban air quality, auto LPG is the only clean fuel that is viable for installation on two-wheelers.

There are countries where auto LPG is used in two-wheelers and similar models can be successfully adopted in India.

At a time when people are turning more responsible environmentally and are also looking at a cheaper mode of transport, these cleaner fuels can play a decisive role. There are large-scale conversions happening from the conventional fuel system to cleaner fuels. About 10,000-15,000 vehicles are getting converted every month but there is every possibility to take this number higher.

Expanding footprint

The use of LPG as an automotive fuel was legalised in India with effect from April 24, 2000, and since then there has been no looking back. More than 500 cities have been covered by auto LPG with more than 1,100 stations since then.

Globally, auto LPG is the third most commonly used automotive fuel after petrol and diesel. Over 26 million vehicles across 70 countries use auto LPG to help clean their urban environment.

Worldwide, seven of the 10 largest car manufacturers produce LPG-powered cars. Many countries, including some in Asia, have had very successful experiments with auto LPG.

Indian Auto LPG Coalition (IAC) has been working closely with all stakeholders, especially the government, to bring about greater convergence in popularising the use of auto LPG in the country. It is also trying to widen its network of auto LPG stations from the existing 1,100 stations. It is also bringing global know-how in sales and distribution of the gas to India.

The IAC has also been trying to bring about a level playing field for authorised kit conversion players who are currently disadvantaged against the unauthorised ones.

The IAC is the nodal body for the promotion of auto LPG in India. Members of the coalition include the oil sector PSUs, private auto LPG marketers, kit suppliers and equipment manufacturers. The coalition works very closely with the World LPG Association, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and Automotive Research Association of India.

(The writer is Director General, Indian Auto LPG Coalition)

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