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IOC begins auto LPG sales in Chennai

Our Bureau

The Executive Director of Indian Oil (Southern Region), Mr T.L. Jain, filling LPG in a car after inaugurating an automobile LPG dispensing station in Chennai on Tuesday.

CHENNAI, Dec. 10

INDIAN Oil Corporation today launched sales of automobile LPG in Chennai. The formal launch happened at a company-owned petrol station near Koyembedu, but very soon a similar facility is expected to come up on the Poonamalee High Road.

Following this, IOC will put up at least four more LPG vending machines — Auto LPG Dispensing Stations (ALDS) — at its outlets in MKB Nagar, T. Nagar, Wall Tax road and Chrompet, it was announced on Tuesday.

Automobile owners in Chennai thus have the opportunity to use a cheaper, cleaner fuel. According to the information given by IOC, one litre of `Autogas' (of IOC) will cost Rs 19.56 per litre. However, the consumption of LPG will be approximately 10 per cent more than petrol to get an equivalent mileage.

Consumers will therefore need to buy Autogas worth Rs 21.52 to get the same mileage as a litre of petrol, which costs Rs 31.35.

To be able to use Autogas, a vehicle would first need to buy from designated dealers in the city, a `conversion kit' approved by either the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) or Vehicle Research Development Establishment (VRDE).

There are mainly five such dealers in the city, licensed by one or the other of the two major Italian companies in the conversion kits business — Lovato or BRC. Gas Tech (Greenways Road), Eco Sonic (West Mambalam), Car on Gas (CIT Colony) are the three Lovato agencies. Mahaveer Auto (near Hotel Connemara) and Victory group (near Child Trust Hospital, Nungambakkam) are the two BRC licensees. A conversion kit for a two-wheeler or a three-wheeler costs about Rs 14,000 with the tank, or between Rs 5,500 and Rs 6,000 without the tank. For a car, it costs around Rs 25,000 — the complete, homolougated kit, with the tank.

IOC calculates that for a car that runs about 1,000 km per month, the investment would be paid back in 18 months.

Once the car is retrofitted with the kit by one of the approved centres, a special sticker is provided by the road transport authorities, after the RTO endorses in the RC books that the conversion kit has been done as per the code of practice under the Central Motor Vehicle Rules.

So far, the RTO in Chennai has not given its approval to any vehicle — although there are about 30,000 cars running in the city with LPG kits — but IOC officials say that RTO would now start giving approvals. "It is they who are driving us to provide dispensing stations," one senior official of IOC said.

Once retrofitted with a conversion kit, the vehicle can run either on petrol or LPG.

Speaking at the function, Mr T.L. Jain, Executive Director-South, IOC, said that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas wanted the oil PSUs to put up 228 auto LPG stations all over the country.

Of these, IOC had to put 116. IOC would have installed 61 by the end of the current financial year, and the rest in the following year.

Mr Jain warned that motorists should not use the cooking gas supplied by the oil companies as auto fuel — doing so is illegal, as the gas is subsidised by the Government.

Besides, RTO would not accord approval to vehicles using cooking gas.

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