More Maruti Suzuki CNG models in the pipeline

    CNG-powered Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Swift and Baleno could join the line-up in future.

    Published On Nov 16, 2021 06:15:00 PM


    Maruti Suzuki India is putting its pedal to the floor in the CNG car marketspace. The passenger vehicle market leader is firming up plans to expand its CNG portfolio. One of the earliest carmakers to introduce CNG-powered cars in India, Maruti Suzuki clocked its highest-ever CNG car sales – 1,57,954 units – in FY2021 (April 2020 to March 2021) and contributed 12.20 percent to its total passenger vehicle sales of 12,93,840 units. This move has also helped the company compensate for the loss in sales following its exit from the diesel market last April.

    • CNG accounted for 12.20 percent of Maruti’s PV sales this year

    • Maruti Suzuki planning to bring CNG to the Brezza and Baleno

    • CNG network has expanded from 1,300 stations in 2019 to 3,500 stations now

    Our sister magazine Autocar Professional’s data analysis reveals that Maruti Suzuki’s cumulative CNG car sales would have crossed 6,00,000 units last month. Having crossed the half-million mark in April, the next 1,00,000 units have taken barely seven months (see data table below).

    Maruti Suzuki CNG car sales
    YearCNG sales (in units)Year-on-year growthTotal PV sales (in units)CNG contribution to total PV sales
    FY2022 (Apr-Sep’21)81,551-5,93,09213.75%

    Factory-fitted CNG models turn popular

    After introducing its first factory-fitted CNG model in 2010 – the WagonR – the company has proven the merits of its S-CNG technology in India. Aspects such as changes to the engine’s valve seats, car’s shock absorbers, placement of a CNG filling valve next to the petrol filler cap, a modified instrument cluster with integrated CNG fuel level display and a frontal and side-impact crash test on the CNG variant, have helped India’s largest carmaker establish trust with its customers.

    “People are no longer worried about loss of power, engine misfiring or the car not being able to climb an incline on CNG,” said Shashank Srivastava, executive director, sales and marketing, MSIL. “Customers have given us the feedback to get CNG in the Vitara Brezza. Our market research also shows that customers are looking for CNG even in the Swift with a lot of customers asking for CNG even in the Baleno and Ciaz. We are examining it and then will decide which models to offer with CNG.”

    While its bestselling CNG car continues to be the Wagon R, MSIL also offers CNG on the Alto, S-Presso, Eeco, Ertiga, Tour S and Tour M taxis and Super Carry (commercial pickup). “We would add another three-four models in our portfolio equipped with CNG,” Srivastava said while speaking with Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the newly launched Celerio’s media drive. “While I can’t specify the upcoming models, there is some development time and schedules, and we would definitely be coming with more CNG models,” he added.

    CNG network growing

    According to a report by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the CNG network has expanded to about 3,500 filling stations in 293 cities at present, from 1,300 stations in 143 cities in 2019. This is poised to strengthen to 6,000 stations by 2025 and reach 10,000 stations by 2030.

    “The government is also aggressively pushing for the use of CNG for transportation instead of petrol and diesel, as CNG is also much cheaper to import and helps offset the high crude import cost of the country,” Srivastava said. CNG sales volumes for Maruti Suzuki have grown from 75,000 units in 2017 – when only Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat had strong demand for CNG – to 1,62,000 units this year, with it expecting to touch the 3,00,000-unit mark by the end of this year.

    While the highest retail price for CNG is in Hyderabad at Rs 75 per kg, it hovers in the Rs 45-60 per kg range for other cities, while still being significantly cheaper than petrol and diesel.

    High-on-localisation CNG kit

    Even though the carmaker is grappling to meet the surge in demand for its CNG cars, currently having a waiting period up to four months, it is still hedged from global supply chain risks, as it has heavily localised its CNG kit.

    “We are only importing raw material from Italy or Japan, which forms the major chunk of the import content on the kit. Otherwise, the kit is majorly localised, including local manufacturing. Only some child parts for outsourced components are being brought in as imports by our suppliers,” said CV Raman, chief technology officer, Maruti Suzuki India.

    The carmaker has clearly set its focus on CNG, but, with low running costs coming with a compromise on boot space, are there any innovations in the pipeline? “While there is a composite technology available for the light weighting of the CNG cylinder, it's very expensive. Any development takes time and therefore, we are not looking at such an innovation immediately,” added Raman.

    Maruti Suzuki to expand CNG portfolio

    CNG in MSIL’s product portfolio is so far available with three engine options – the 800cc, F8D in the Alto, 1.0-litre, K10B in the S-Presso, 1.5-litre, K15B in the Ertiga, Tour M, and 1.2-litre, K12M in the Tour S. Now, it is all set to roll out in the newly introduced 1.0-litre, K10C, DualJet engine in the second-generation Celerio hatchback.

    “There are no challenges as such to integrate CNG in the new engine with two injectors per cylinder. It will be seamlessly integrated and the new Celerio CNG will be introduced in the next few weeks,” said Raman. When launched, the second-generation Celerio CNG will have the bragging rights of being the most fuel-efficient CNG car in the country as well, with the petrol-manual trims already claiming 25.2kpl, and CNG generally giving an 80-100 percent better fuel economy.

    “With the current dynamics, CNG offers the lowest cost proposition in terms of total cost of ownership. Therefore, we will have a CNG variant for every model going forward,” reiterated Raman. “If customers also demand CNG in Nexa cars, we will consider that as well. We will be open to open offering CNG across our range.”

    Upcoming Maruti Suzuki cars and SUVs in India: 2021 and beyond

    Maruti Suzuki has recently launched the Celerio in India. The brand is currently readying heavily updated versions of the Vitara Brezza and the Baleno that will launch next year. Additionally, an all new Alto, five-door Jimny and a Creta rivalling SUV are also expected to be introduced in future. 

    Also See:

    Next-gen Maruti Suzuki Alto takes shape

    2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno facelift leaked ahead of unveil

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.



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