By Abhijit Mitra & Sutirtha SanyalLast month, the Centre raised petrol prices while leaving diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) untouched. After the hike, a litre of petrol in New Delhi cost Rs73.18, which was finally brought down to Rs70.24 after the state government and oil marketers reduced the value added tax (VAT) on petrol.
If you are a petrol car owner, the hike has definitely turned your monthly fuel budget topsy-turvy. But while you cannot reduce fuel prices, you can bring down your monthly fuel expenses. Here we list the various options at your disposal.
| MORE MILES PER LITRE|
Even if you don’t want to convert to CNG or switch over to a diesel car, you can still cut down on your fuel expenses. Here’s how.
- Cut off the engine if the stoppage time at the traffic intersection is more than a minute.
- Keep tyre pressure at correct level. Overinflating can help, but more than 1-2 psi could affect the car’s handling and braking.
- Fill fuel in the morning when it is densest.
- If the car is parked in the sun for long, run the air-conditioner with the windows open for a minute or two and then close them and run the a/c in recirculation mode. The hot air will escape faster without the air-conditioner having to cool it, thus reducing the load on the car engine. Keep the temperature inside the cabin at 24 degrees. Don’t chill the interiors.
- Avoid sudden acceleration and braking while driving.
You can either convert your existing car to run on CNG or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or opt to buy a diesel car.
But exercising either option will entail substantial funding. So you need to calculate the expenses of installation and registration (in case you switch over to CNG or LPG) or the additional fund required to buy a diesel car over a petrol version.
CONVERTING TO CNG OR LPG
While several theories suggest that they damage the car’s engine, none of these have been proven. But what has been established is that running a car on CNG or LPG results in a drop in power output by 10-15 per cent.
But do ensure that you instal an LPG or a CNG kit at an authorised outlet, preferably one owned or authorised by the car manufacturer. Badly installed sub-standard kits could lead to an explosion or a fire.
Otherwise, you can even buy a car with a factory-fitted CNG kit. But keep in mind that the number of CNG or LPG stations are far fewer than petrol pumps, so do consider the waiting time you have to spend each time you decide to tank up.
Fill up the tank, note the odometer reading and drive for around 200 km. If you have you have to fill up the tank with say, 15 litres of petrol, then the fuel efficiency of your car is 13.33 kmpl.
Now petrol costs Rs70.24 per litre, so your per kilometer travel will cost Rs70.24/13.33 or Rs 5 . 2 7
Find out the average running cost of LPG or CNG from other users or company claims. Add another 10-15 per cent to the information claimed. Suppose the running cost is Rs2 per km. So, your saving will be Rs3.27 per km.
Suppose if installation and registration cost of the converted car comes to Rs30,000, then you need to run the car for 30,000/3.27 or 9,174 km to offset the cost. Beyond that you will gain in terms of running cost every kilometer. So, if you plan to change before logging that many kilometers, it makes sense not to go for a retrofit.
For LPG kit also, do the same calculation
DIESEL VS PETROL CARS
A few car owners Outlook Money spoke to said they had stopped using their petrol cars and were thinking of buying a diesel car.
“I have a diesel Indica and a petrol SX4. I don’t use the SX4 anymore. If I need two cars, I will sell off the SX4 and buy a diesel car,” says Saugat Mahapatra, who lives in New Delhi.
“I have a petrol car, but I don’t use it regularly, so I don’t see any need to convert it to CNG. If I need a car for regular use, I will have to buy a diesel car,” says Sandeep Singh, an owner of a Zen Estilo.
However, not only do diesel cars cost more, even their maintenance is costly, so unless you drive it regularly, it could as well become your white elephant.
Calculate the number of years you intend to retain the car, say 5 years, and the total kilometres the car will clock in a year, say 20,000 km. So, in five years the car will run 100,000 kms.
Suppose your chosen diesel car gives a city mileage of 16 kmpl, so the total fuel consumption in five years will be 6,250 litres. The fuel cost in five year will come to 6,250 x Rs41 or Rs2,56,250 and for a petrol car, it will be Rs 4,39, 000
So, the price difference between running a diesel and a petrol car comes to Rs1,82,750.
Diesel cars usually cost Rs1 lakh more and servicing and maintenance is expensive by 25 per cent (say Rs20,000 more) So the effective gain will be Rs62,750.
Also consider the resale value of your car. Typically, in five years, a Rs5-lakh petrol car will sell for Rs2.5 lakh and a Rs6-lakh diesel for Rs3 lakh.
But diesel cars are now fetching a premium in the used car market and petrols are going for a discount (Say this is 5 per cent). So the monetary gain after factoring them in will be Rs3,15,000-Rs2,37,500. So, the total monetary benefit of a diesel over
5 years will be Rs62,750 + Rs77,500 or Rs1,40,250.
There are other non-monetary factors too like driving ease (e.g., fewer number of gear shifts while driving in slow traffic) and efficiency of air-conditioner). Largely, diesel scores on both counts.
With the price differential between petrol and diesel at around Rs30 per litre, financially, you would be better off with a diesel if you plan to run the car more than 35,000 km or so if you are talking about A, B or C segment cars.
WHAT’S ON OFFER
Petrols are off buyers’ radar, so Sutirtha Sanyal went discount-hunting for them at dealerships
Alto, Wagon R Rs30,000
Polo Free Insurance + (2-year Maintenance Package (Rs25,000)
Vento (Free stereo + exchange offer) or Free insurance + maintenance for topmost model
Indica Vista, Indigo
Santro Insurance + Rs6,000 + Rs2,950 (Petrol discount)
i10 Insurance + Rs10,000 + Rs2,650
Accent Rs10,000 + Rs3,200
Spark, Beat, Aveo Free Insurance + 3-year maintenance
Figo Insurance discount
The list is not exhaustive; discounts on offer at some dealerships at the time of going to press.