The Cost of Maintaining a CNG Vehicle
Environmental concerns as well as the rising price of diesel and petrol have turned the spotlight once again on CNG vehicles. Most transportation experts as well as green activists agree that CNG fuelled bus fleets – for example school buses, public transport buses or corporate buses – are good for the world’s environmental health. However, the fact remains that natural gas run vehicles are priced higher than diesel or petrol vehicles. Conversion into CNG is also an expensive affair.
The initial expense of converting to CNG or purchasing a CNG vehicle has often been cited as the reason for their lack of popularity. But this is a rather short-sighted approach to adopt. In the long run, a CNG vehicle will prove to be a more economical buy. Natural gas is cheaper than diesel or petrol, bringing down the running costs. In addition, CNG maintenance costs are lower than diesel run vehicles.
The CNG Edge
Kinder on Vehicle Parts: What makes the CNG vehicle cheaper to maintain? The advantage basically arises from the fact that natural gas is an extremely clean fuel. It burns cleanly, thus reducing the damage to the inner parts of the vehicle. CNG is also non-corrosive as compared to petrol and diesel which have several additives that react with metal. Using CNG as a fuel is much kinder to the vehicle’s pipes, mufflers and spark plugs; and ultimately to your wallet.
Fewer Oil Changes: The main reason why motor oil has be changed is due to the accumulation of unburned fuel and acids. This accumulation makes the oil ineffective. Keeping motor oil clean can help to increase its life. CNG burns very cleanly. This reduces not just the emissions and pollutants but also does not release any by-products into the motor oil. As a result, the oil does not change its character. Since CNG helps to maintain the quality of oil, it brings down the frequency of oil changes. This lack of deterioration in oil quality also improves the life of the engines, thus keeping maintenance costs low.
Life Span: If well-maintained, life span of a CNG vehicle is as high as a petrol vehicle. Diesel vehicles on the other hand have a much lower life span, mainly due to fuel characteristics.
The lower maintenance on CNG vehicles translates into healthier budgets for corporations and local governments that run CNG bus fleets. In some cases, maintenance costs are reported to have declined by as much as 40 percent.
Growing Popularity of CNG vehicles: Given their low maintenance and running costs, CNG vehicles are becoming increasingly popular around the world. According to NGV Global, the number of NGVs in use, worldwide, by the end of 2011 had grown to 15.2 million. Global NGV sales are expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 percent to reach 19.9 million vehicles by 2016. Most of this growth is seen in the Middle East and Latin American countries. Iran and Pakistan account for 19 percent respectively of the total NGV vehicles in the world. India’s share stands at 7.24 percent. Transport buses account for 62 percent of all natural gas vehicular use, a statistic that can be attributed to convenience and economy factors.
Industry analysts say that with improved technology and greater production, the cost of natural gas vehicles is bound to decline in the future. This will fuel demand and improve acceptability levels of natural gas vehicles.