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LPG WagonR takes on scooters

S Kalyana Ramanathan  |  New Delhi 

Maruti's dual-fuel version to lower running costs to Rs 1.84 km/litre.
Auto war is all set to take a new turn with market leader Maruti Udyog Ltd preparing to offer fuel efficiency on its cars comparable to that of a scooter.
In less than a month from now, the company will launch the dual-fuel version of the WagonR (priced at Rs 25,000 more than the petrol WagonR), that can also run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and deliver scooter-like fuel efficiency.
The cost of auto-grade LPG is Rs 23.88 per litre and the WagonR, as well as the Omni, return an efficiency of 13 km per litre, while a scooter runs on petrol costing Rs 55.66 per litre including 2T oil to fetch 34 km per litre.
Thus, the cost of running the LPG WagonR works out to Rs 1.84 per km -- just 21 paise more Rs 1.63 per kilometre needed to drive a scooter.
"The fuel economy of a WagonR may not be the same as that of an LPG powered Omni, since the WagonR will run on both petrol and LPG. However, this will hold good where WagonR is run only on LPG," said a Maruti spokesperson.
This is not the first time that the company is trying to lure two-wheeler customers to "graduate" to cars. Two years ago, Maruti had come out with the "Do-ka-Char" offer, where two wheeler owners were given an offer to exchange their vehicle for a car. But this is the first time that the company will use the fuel efficiency plank to win over scooter owners.
Considering the lack of widespread use of compressed natural gas, which as of now is limited only to Delhi and Mumbai, Maruti has decided to take the LPG route to lure mileage-per-litre conscious car buyers.
One of the advantages of LPG is its easy availability across the country. LPG is currently sold in over 100 filling and dispensing stations across 24 cities.
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore have over 15 outlets each. Leading oil are expanding this network to another 17 cities in the next six months.
"Auto-grade LPG is not subsidised, hence the risk of cost escalation due to withdrawal of subsidy does not exist," said a company spokesperson.
While LPG kits for cars are available off-the-shelf, the introduction of WagonR with an LPG option, will make it the first passenger car with factory-fitted LPG kit, certified for quality and safety, in the country.
The LPG-cum-petrol WagonR will be priced at around Rs 25,000 more than the petrol version. The WagonR, among other compact models in the market, competes head on with Hyundai's Santro.

First Published: Sat, February 11 2006. 00:00 IST