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Old 7th April 2008, 21:00   #1
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Default OPTRA CNG - Owner's tale of saving $ and the earth

In July of 2006, we decided that the Optra had drained our wallets enough, thanks only to itís high petrol consumption of ~8 km/l

While the car has performed VERY well for the past 30 months, we decided to find a more economical option. Just as we were ready to sell the car, GM announced the CNG Optra kit fitment at the dealership. I immediately rushed to the dealership and tried to ascertain more details, such as cost, mileage, reliability estimates but found no one with any real information. GM really needs to inform and train their dealers well.

Finally, I found someone named Vishal at Fortpoint, Mumbai (NO LONGER a GM Dealer). Vishal is a young guy who is obviously underpaid and inexperienced, but has dedication. He managed to find some initial information for me and thus began the CNG installation.

Before I talk about the kit, let me enlighten you about CNG:

1. It is a Gas- DUH! And is the only automotive fuel that is in gaseous form. (No, LPG is not a gas. LPG is a liquidmixture of Propane and Butane).

2. It has an Octane rating of 127 vs. 87 Octane for Petrol (translation: clean combustion, no knocking).

3. It can be derived from Sewage, waste, Natural venting in the earth etc. and is comprised primarily of Methane. It is NOT derived from Crude Oil. We have 1 Billion people in India = lots of waste gas.

4. India has abundant reserves of CNG, enough to power 600 BEST Buses in Bombay, ALL of Bombayís 1.25 lac taxis and private vehicles - And thatís just Bombay. CNG has maintained itís price of around 20 odd Rupees per kilogram since year 2000. Try saying the same for Petrol/ Diesel? Incase there is another Oil shortage, CNG will not be directly affected. (before CNG was used for propulsion, it was totally wasted as it had no use). On the other hand, LPG is in peak demand during the winter months in the West as it is used for heating. As such, itís price ranges from Rs. 22 - Rs. 29.

5. It is safe to use as a fuel as it is lighter than air and rises. BUT make sure your kit is installed ONLY by an authorized dealer.

6. Your car will give an average of 12 km per kilo of CNG. Each tank has a range of 120 - 130 kilometers at a cost of Rs. 220 per fill up. I have noticed that even Taxiís get this much range at this cost. While it is inconvenient to keep filling up, the cost for driving 500 kms is Rs 900. Petrol costs Rs. 2500. SHOCKING!!!

7. CNG Optra kits have closed loop systems with a separate ECU for gas control. Donít worry about your cars stalling in the rain like Taxis or anything else. Your CNG OPTRA will run just reliably as it does on Petrol.


So back to my review,

It took another month for the kit to arrive. During this time, I visited the dealership and met with GM engineers who had fitted a test car with a kit. They mentioned that they had tested the car for a long duration and found it to be reliable and safe. Time will tell if they were honest.

I was NOT impressed by the fit and finish of the kit. The control module (that allows you to switch from CNG to Petrol) is placed near the steering wheel and has exposed color wiring that spoils the show of the dashboard. Additionally, the CNG cylinder in the trunk is HUGE and takes up 60% of the space in the rear. These are the main cons of this kit.

Here are the pros:

-- 60% savings MINIMUM over your monthly fuel bill. The kit pays for itself in 2 years.

-- Factory Warranty stays intact. This is a GM authorized kit. While they do not manufacture all the components, they do supply the electricals. As such, you are covered by the GM warranty.

-- Power loss is around 18% on paper but the car feels only a little slower than Petrol power. 0-60 in 14 seconds with Top Speed remaining the same.

-- Youíre saving the environment. CNG emissions are 70% lower than a Petrol powered car. No more PUCs EVER!!!! THIS IS A GREAT SHOW OFF POINT!

-- Youíre reducing Indiaís dependence on Oil imports. CNG is a gas that was wasted till a few years ago. Now, it is helping us reduce our oil imports by 3% a year while the China and Americaís keep rising. ANOTHER SHOW OFF POINT!!!

So, there you have it. My thoughts, views and feelings on this fuel option. So far, the car drives well and while it doesnít let us forget that we are driving a dealer installed aftermarket kit, the savings still keep us smiling. In the end, this is the most luxurious car you can drive on CNG. Needless to say, weíre keeping it for a few more years.

GM would do well to adopt these technologies full swing, not just half heartedly and stop at the dealer level. It would be nice to see factory fitted kits on all their cars as an option. God knows, our planet needs it just as much as our wallets!!!
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Old 7th April 2008, 21:33   #2
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VEry well written review and some nice inputs there Screwdriva. You seem to be one happy CNG customer. Hope to see you updating this thread regularly. Can we have some pictures of the installation? How much did it cost you overall?
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Old 7th April 2008, 21:39   #3
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Congrats man! you seem really happy with the install!
Some questions
How much did you pay for the kit with fitting?
Which kit is this?
Is your Optra a 1.6 or 1.8?
Will it work on the VGIS variants too?
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Old 7th April 2008, 22:06   #4
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Scredriva, sounds like a killer deal.. What was the cost of installation and pics???
Well done for taking this giant leap for mankind
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Old 7th April 2008, 22:07   #5
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Welcome onboard Aviv, Nice to see you over Team-BHP !!!

Yes, it's me your fellow owning another CNG Optra !! LOL... You know world is a very small place...

Aviv, we are having a very healthy discussion over this thread (Performance Mods for CNG Cars) regarding possible mods for CNG cars, do input you expertise over there too

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
VEry well written review and some nice inputs there Screwdriva. You seem to be one happy CNG customer.
Definetly dippy, CNG Optra owner always seems to be happy one, another example is me. You know this happiness always comes when at the end of the day you look at your wallet which is still fat after driving a 100+ km in a luxury car...


Cheers

Last edited by ashthedivx : 7th April 2008 at 22:11.
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Old 7th April 2008, 22:17   #6
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Can you also mention the overall cost that you incurred in getting the CNG kit for your optra?

I was keen at sometime to get one in my Corsa but dropped the idea after getting some wrong inputs on the kit price.

Please let me know the same. Thanks.
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Old 8th April 2008, 01:44   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
VEry well written review and some nice inputs there Screwdriva. You seem to be one happy CNG customer. Hope to see you updating this thread regularly. Can we have some pictures of the installation? How much did it cost you overall?
Total Cost for the installation was Rs. 55,000/-. That was 20 months ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vandan View Post
Congrats man! you seem really happy with the install!
Some questions
How much did you pay for the kit with fitting?
Which kit is this?
Is your Optra a 1.6 or 1.8?
Will it work on the VGIS variants too?
This kit is only authorized on the 1.6 Optra. VGIS is marketing, nothing else. All 1.6's have "VGIS".

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashthedivx View Post
Welcome onboard Aviv, Nice to see you over Team-BHP !!!

Yes, it's me your fellow owning another CNG Optra !! LOL... You know world is a very small place...

Aviv, we are having a very healthy discussion over this thread (Performance Mods for CNG Cars) regarding possible mods for CNG cars, do input you expertise over there too



Definetly dippy, CNG Optra owner always seems to be happy one, another example is me. You know this happiness always comes when at the end of the day you look at your wallet which is still fat after driving a 100+ km in a luxury car...


Cheers
Great to see you here too! Hoping to add more value to this forum

Quote:
Originally Posted by CorsaLove View Post
Can you also mention the overall cost that you incurred in getting the CNG kit for your optra?

I was keen at sometime to get one in my Corsa but dropped the idea after getting some wrong inputs on the kit price.

Please let me know the same. Thanks.
See above pls

Last edited by Rehaan : 8th April 2008 at 04:43. Reason: No need to post in all bold text.
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Old 8th April 2008, 05:03   #8
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Very well written, Sounds like the CNG costs has you smitten.

Well, last year while taking the icon, the only other option at hand was the optra.Didnt buy it for the same FE reason, after my cousin reported his general FE to us. A little later after I got the the ikon even ford came out with a CNG kit for the Ikon. Sad for me.

Put together,How much did the kit and installation cost you ?
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Old 8th April 2008, 05:15   #9
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All inclusive costs for this kit were Rs. 55,000 TOTAL, inclusive of some registration formalities.

Please be VERY careful when selecting your CNG dealer. Srimankar are thieves and should be avoided at all costs. They screwed General Motors over as well, and thats why GM exited the Dealer CNG path.

I anticipate the 1.6 Optra Magnum getingt a factory fitted CNG kit, just like they did in Singapore -> News - Chevrolet introduces the Optra Magnum CNG in Singapore
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Old 8th April 2008, 09:52   #10
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Well written and informative article, Screwdriva.

While I am not a fan of modding a petrol car to run on alternate fuels, due to having had some issues in the past with using an LPG car, I understand the good it does to the environment. And that is apart from the savings.

Am sure this article will help spread awareness about such alternate economy fuels.
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Old 10th April 2008, 00:18   #11
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55k on your wallet!!! + 18% loss on paper (actuals would be much more) + No boot
+ additional weight to carry around + fueling inconveniences

What's the point? Pick Optra Magnum instead or some hatch back...
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Old 10th April 2008, 09:27   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ST7677 View Post
55k on your wallet!!! + 18% loss on paper (actuals would be much more) + No boot
+ additional weight to carry around + fueling inconveniences

What's the point? Pick Optra Magnum instead or some hatch back...
Actually, the 55K is paid off a while ago - we're enjoying the fuel savings and a free kit now, not to mention additional value when we sell the car. The 20% power loss puts the power at around 83 bhp, which is very drivable. The boot is still there, just 60% smaller BUT more than many hatchbacks and there are NO CNG fueling problems in Mumbai area and suburbs.

Savings over an Optra Diesel or ANY diesel for that matter, are significant.

There are several cons to authorized CNG conversions. But none of them are bad enough to avoid this remarkable intermediate solution to the problems of fuel costs, imports and associated pollution.
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Old 10th April 2008, 09:56   #13
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Default CNG + Corsa = Superb Combination

Quote:
Originally Posted by CorsaLove View Post

I was keen at sometime to get one in my Corsa but dropped the idea after getting some wrong inputs on the kit price.

Please let me know the same. Thanks.
I got CNG installed in Sep 2006 in my Corsa 1.4 and since then i have clocked around 45000 Kms and never faced any problem in my car.

Before CNG my daily commuting cost was around Rs 300 but thanks to CNG, cost came down to around 100.

There is some power loss with CNG but i guess saving compensates for the power loss.

Total cost of CNG kit was around 41k including RC changes , installation etc.

Calculations (approx):-

On Petrol

Distance - 80 km
Cost - 300 Rs
Average cost per km = 300/80 = 3.75

On CNG

Distance - 80 km
Cost - 100 Rs
Average cost per km = 100/80 = 1.25

Total Saving per Km = 3.75 - 1.25 = 2.5 Rs

Distance driven after CNG = 45000 Kms

Total Savings on fuel costs = 45000 * 2.5 = 112500 Rs

I guess this help you and you soon get CNG fitted in your car as well.
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Old 10th April 2008, 10:52   #14
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Great Review.

By the way which cars in India are available with CNG (factory fitted)?

And, I have always been a supporter of CNG (versus LPG) due to all the reasons you have mentioned.

Any idea why all non-metro cities have been asked to go LPG way rather than CNG?

Will CNG be available eventually in all the cities?
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Old 10th April 2008, 11:17   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
Great Review.

By the way which cars in India are available with CNG (factory fitted)?

And, I have always been a supporter of CNG (versus LPG) due to all the reasons you have mentioned.

Any idea why all non-metro cities have been asked to go LPG way rather than CNG?

Will CNG be available eventually in all the cities?
As long as you go with Factory fitted LPG cars - WagonR Duo or Cedia, LPG is a good option for cars outside of Delhi/ Mumbai. For cars in those Metros, CNG makes much more sense. CNG distribution infrastructure is VERY expensive and troublesome to set up, so it really depends on the individual city and its government.

All current generation CNG cars are manufacturer endorsed only i.e. Dealer retrofitted. Examples are the Indica, Optra etc. Maybe the new Santro CNG is factory fitted? Not sure about the Ikon or Lancer CNG.

The most luxurious CNG car you can purchase is the Optra. The most luxurious LPG car you can purchase is the Lancer Cedia ALPG

Assuming 2000 kms running a month of Petrol, your cost is Rs. 10,000 apx
" " " " CNG your cost is Rs. 4,500 aprx
Yearly savings = Rs. 60,000 +

DO NOT PURCHASE NON-MANUFACTURER ENDORSED kits
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