Car maker Tata Motors Ltd is gearing up for the launch of a variant of its existing Indica car model that uses liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This will reduce the cost per mile of running the car as it is one of the cheapest—and cleaner—forms of fuels used in the country.
Indica marked the entry of Tata, one of India’s oldest vehicle makers better known for its trucks, into the car segment. According to a vendor who would jeopardize his relationship with the company if he identified himself, the firm has tied up with a north India based manufacturer for the supply of LPG kits.
“Plans are to launch the LPG variant in July-August this year, initially with 1,000 units a month, and scale up, depending on the response in the market,” the vendor said. This person also said a new CNG (compressed natural gas) variant is likely to roll in by the end of 2008.
According to this person, the Indica LPG will be targeted at consumers who want to own a car but want lower operational costs. The Indica is used by a large number of taxi drivers, many of whom would be eager to snap up a more affordable option, this person added.
“Tata Motors does not, as a policy, comment on new product introduction,” said a company spokesperson.
Tata Motors joins other car makers in India who are offering alternative fuel options on cars. Maruti Suzuki Ltd’s WagonR Duo, the hatchback that runs on LPG and petrol, has been reporting brisk sales since its launch in 2006. Hyundai Motor India showcased its LPG range at the recently concluded Auto Expo 2008, as did Mahindra Renault, which displayed the LPG version of its Logan.
While Maruti officials were not immediately available to provide details, a person familiar with the matter said the WagonR Duo delivers 13.5km per litre on LPG against 16-17km per litre on petrol. “There is at least a 30% savings in fuel cost if you use LPG over petrol,” this person said.
The cost of auto LPG has gone up in the last six months, from Rs28 to Rs35 per litre, but it continues to be a cheaper alternative to petrol, which costs an average of Rs47 per litre.