Feature

Stepping on the gas

Indraprastha Gas makes for a sound bet even as it looks to counter slow volume growth and gas supply issues

Vishal Koul

It’s nearing lunch hour but Rakesh Kumar Goswami is a tad too busy to notice the clock ticking by. For the manager of Indraprastha Gas’ pump station in New Delhi’s Moti Bagh has enough business on hand. Two years into manning the operations at the pump, he is seeing a noticeable difference. “We are getting well over a lakh four-wheelers for refuelling at our pump every month,” he says. That business is booming can be evinced by the fact that this single gas pump sells over 360,000 kg of compressed natural gas (CNG) in a month, compared with the national average of 125,000-130,000 kg a month for petrol or diesel pumps. “The demand for CNG has been on the rise of late,” points out Goswami. The spiralling prices of petrol and diesel in the recent past have created a whopping 86% differential between CNG and petrol (₹71.41 in Delhi) and an equally significant 50% differential between CNG and diesel (₹53 in Delhi), leading to wallet-conscious consumers switching over to fuel-efficient cars driven by CNG. In fact, last month, Maruti unveiled its latest CNG version of the Celerio, boasting of delivering best-in-class fuel efficiency of 31.79 km/kg. The launch follows Tata Motors’ attempt to woo customers with a CNG version of its small car, Nano, in late 2013. Though the overall automobile industry has been going through a slowdown, car-makers are churning out CNG variants to keep pulling in customers. More importantly, at ₹1.61/km, the running cost of a CNG vehicle is the lowest, compared with ₹4.45/km for petrol, and a little over a fifth cheaper than a diesel vehicle.