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Is switching your car to LPG a good option?

Is switching your car to LPG a good option?

Rising fuel prices may make you consider the LPG option. But before you cross the barrier over to the cheaper fuel, read on to find out its pros and cons.

If you’re thinking of switching to LPG from petrol or diesel to lower your car costs, a lot of questions arise. Do you drive enough to recover your cost quickly? Will it affect the performance of your car? Could your maintenance costs increase? Let’s find out.

First things first, LPG has an initial cost. It will cost you Rs25,000 to Rs50,000 to fit one in your car. It is a cleaner and cheaper alternative to petrol and, very surprisingly, needs very little servicing too. What’s more is that it affects your car’s performance to a lesser extent than CNG. But it does have its disadvantages, too.

Disadvantages of an LPG kit

Boot space: LPG kits go into your car’s trunk. Depending on your car’s size, it may take up almost all of your boot space or at least half of it. For hatchbacks with little boot space like the Chevrolet Beat, installing a LPG kit can potentially reduce the boot’s utility to just putting in a few small size bags.

Less mileage: Even though LPG is much cheaper than petrol, the mileage of a car running on LPG does drop compared to its performance with diesel or petrol. The mileage usually reduces by approximately 3km/l. The engine performance also reduces, but this change is marginal.

Refuelling problems: Depending on the city you live in, LPG refuelling stations may be very few. Lengthy trips to a fuel pump providing LPG are common stories of car owners who have switched to this alternate fuel. It also takes a longer time to refuel LPG tanks compared to petrol or diesel fuel tanks. This often leads to lengthy lines as well at fuel pumps. The government is trying to change this, though. It has been announced that LPG cylinders will soon be available at company-operated petrol pumps, which account for 3% of all petrol pumps in the country.

For our analysis on whether you should consider CNG for your car, go here.

How much can you save with LPG?
Running your car on LPG is estimated to give you about 80-85% of the mileage when compared to the same car running on petrol (80% in our calculations). This would mean that if your car gives you an economy of about 15km/l on petrol, with LPG you would get around 12km/l.

The prices of petrol and LPG are considered as Rs80/l and Rs45/l respectively.

Note that we’ve taken the upper limit of Rs50,000 as expenditure on fitting the LPG tank. In reality, your expenditure may be closer to Rs25,000.

Example 1 – 1,000km per month
If you travel about 1000km every month, you would need 66.5 litres of petrol which would cost Rs5,320/month. Alternatively, the cost of running on LPG would come to about Rs3,735 every month for 83 litres used.
Investment recovery This comes out to a monthly saving of Rs1,585 and a yearly saving of Rs19,020. So it would take you about two years or slightly longer to make up your initial cost of fitting LPG in your car.

Example 2 – 750km per month
You’d need 50 litres of petrol every month. That’s a monthly spend of Rs4,000. You’d need 62.5 litres of LPG, which would cost Rs2,812 every month.
Investment recovery So you would save Rs1,188 every month and Rs14,256 every year, taking you up to 3 years to make back your initial investment.

Example 3 – 500km per month
You would need 33.5 litres of petrol, amounting to Rs2,680 every month, and 42 litres of LPG, which would come to about Rs1,890 monthly.
Investment recovery You monthly savings would be slightly less than Rs800, meaning you would save around Rs9,500 every year. Travelling 500km every month is the least feasible and would take you over four years to make back your initial cost.

In all our examples, the monthly running cost of LPG comes out to be around 70% of the cost with petrol.

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