Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, launched India’s first long distance compressed natural gas (CNG) bus on December 24, 2019 under a strategic program led by Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), the largest CNG distribution company in India. The launch ushers in CNG as the fuel of choice for long distance transportation in India. The Honorable Minister speaking on the occasion complimented Agility Fuel Solutions and urged the Indian automotive and fleet industry to implement long distance travel solutions with CNG. Present at the launch were Dr. M.M. Kutty, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India, Mr. Gajendra Singh, Director, GAIL, Mr. Ranganathan, MD, IGL and Mr. Manoj Chugh, President, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
The composite cylinder-based complete bus fuel system designed, engineered, assembled and delivered by Agility Fuel Solutions, along with its Indian partner Advantek Fuel Systems, more than doubles the range of India’s CNG buses and is also equipped with a special fast filling module to reduce filling time. While CNG buses in India previously traveled 350 kms at best, the program’s five buses with Agility’s technology each have a range of over 1100 kms – a first in India’s automotive history.
With BS VI Emissions Standards going into effect on 1 April 2020, IGL’s program begins a shift away from diesel, which previously accounted for 100% of intercity travel, towards a gas-based economy. Buses outfitted with Agility Fuel Solutions’ roof top CNG systems not only allow fleet owners to achieve BS VI easily, but allow them to do so in a cost-effective manner, since CNG costs less than diesel.
At 1360 liters total, Agility’s four tanks nearly double the 720-liter capacity of India’s current CNG bus systems. At the same time, India’s current systems have a weight of around 1100 kgs, which will reduce drastically to 490 kgs using Agility’s systems. Fleet operators thus get more than double the range at less than half the weight. CNG buses also get better mileage and have lower maintenance costs.
Additionally, CNG costs on average about 20-25% less than diesel. IGL’s pilot program leads the way for fleet owners to save money on long distance travel, even while complying with BS VI. Delhi is one of four cities implementing new CNG technology under the encouragement of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). Together, city gas companies in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru are also planning to demonstrate how long distance CNG buses can become common in India.