Indian auto giant Tata Motors, is planning to commercially roll out eco-friendly LNG bus by April next year. The company had unveiled the first LNG bus at the Delhi Auto Expo, 2014.
The company had made a pilot-run for the nation's first LNG (liquefied natural gas) powered bus in Thiruvananthapuram last week and hopes to launch first in Kerala.
"If all goes well, we are planning the commercial launch next April. We are working overtime to get regulatory approvals including those from ARAI," Tata Motors engineering head Ajit Jindal told PTI.
He, however, denied the plans that the company has inked an agreement with Kerala.
"We have not signed any agreement with Kerala as yet or any other state. Kerala is keen to place an order for 1,000 buses with us and we have offered to make 10 per cent of that (100) to be LNG-powered," Jindal said.
He said these fully-built buses will be produced at its Lucknow plant, where it makes the CNG buses also, and thebody will be built at its Dharwar plant.
"Going forward, if the demand is good we can also offer just chasis," he said.
When asked about the advantages of LNG over CNG in terms ownership cost for a customer, he said, there is no significant cost advantage over CNG, but coastal states can ain considerably from fuel transportation cost.
From the point of view of diesel, the gains are huge as cost of ownership will be cheaper by around 30 per cent, whileacquisition cost may be higher by Rs 4-5 lakh, he added.
In terms of ease of usage, the LNG buses offer a great advantage over CNG variants as the dead weight of a CNG cylinder and that of a cryogenic cylinder is huge apart from very low filling time, he said.
"With a full tank, an LNG bus can run as much as 700 km in one filling, while a CNG bus can at best deliver just about200 km per cylinder," Jindal said.
He also said an LNG-powered bus (Tata LPO1613), is lighter in weight compared to buses powered by conventional fuels, and has enhanced levels of payload.
Jindal said they have not spent too much on developing this bus which will be sold initially as fully built units of 9 meters or 35 seaters and 12 meters or 50 seaters, the engines are same as that of its CNG buses.
About fuel supply, Jindal said the company is talking to Petronet LNG and Indian Oil to set up special filling stations.
But again he said, no agreement has been reached between them. From the emission side, LNG being a cleaner fuel can reduce greenhouse gases by 30 per cent than diesel.
If it places an order, Kerala will be the first state to explore trial run of LNG-driven technology, he said.