ibnlive » Tech

Jul 01, 2008 at 06:01pm IST

Hybrid cars: India's answer to the oil crisis

New Delhi: Oil is on the boil and fuel price hikes are making a hole in pockets. In fact, prices are so high that they are threatening to put airlines out of business and even getting auto companies to re-think their cars.

And the crude reality is that demand for fuel is set to double by 2050 and more fuel burnt means a hotter, bleaker planet. So what alternatives does India have to power the country in the coming years?

With fuel price hike pinching consumers, many are making a bee-line for CNG fitted vehicles. But car makers are also waiting in the wings with another new technology - hybrid vehicles.

Business for the Director KNP Automotive, Pawan Puri is hectic ever since the fuel price hike as the demand for CNG fitted cars has nearly doubled in Delhi.

Puri says, "From just fitting two kits, we are now fitting four kits a day in cars and if I had the manpower I'd be doing five."

At Rs 40,000 for the kit, a CNG conversion isn't cheap, but in the long run you actually end up saving money.

A CNG Customer, Alok says, "Right now, fuel costs me Rs 8000 per month. After I get a CNG I will be saving Rs 6000."

What's more it's less polluting. The downside is that CNG is only available in eight cities. Delhi services 2 lakh vehicles everyday but has only 160 CNG pumps.

Associate Director Center for Science and Environment, Chandra Bhushan admits as much, saying "Gas is only available where the gas lines are laid."

CNG is a good alternative to petrol, but only because there are no other options available in the Indian market. But this is only a temporary situation. Hybrid cars are making their way into India and they come fitted with an electric and petrol engine so you can alternate between the two.

Honda's Civic Hybrid has already been launched and it is 60 per cent more fuel efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Mahindra's Scorpio and Toyota's Prius will be following soon. The catch is that because hybrids are fully imported, they cost more than twice their petrol counterparts.