Buyers Guide Back

Confused between petrol, diesel, LPG or CNG car? Read on to make a decision

For the last 3 years petrol prices have been consistently rising. Since June 2010, prices have risen by as much as Rs.18.49 to Rs. 65.64/litre. Comparing this with the prices of diesel, CNG and LPG that are still controlled by the government, a wide disparity is found with diesel at approximately Rs.40.91/litre, CNG at Rs.32/kg and LPG at RS.39.54/litre.

The low cost of diesel, LPG and CNG may tempt you, especially since even luxury cars are now coming up with CNG and diesel version, but you need to consider other aspects before making a decision:


The price of Diesel, LPG and CNG cars is higher than the petrol version. These days most cars come with diesel version but fewer are available woth LPG and CNG versions. However, you can also get a LPG or CNG kit fitted to the petrol version, which means the car cost increases too. An LPG kit typically costs Rs.15000 and a CNG kit costs Rs.30000. Also, remember that CNG is available in select cities only.

The cost of the kit will not be included in the car loan and therefore, the money you shell while making the initial installment will be higher. Hence, the overall gain of cheaper fuel might be offset by partly or fully by the higher prices of these cars. If you take into account the factory fitted versions, the price differential becomes higher if one were to take into account the cost of financing.

Mileage and running cost:

In terms of mileage, diesel cars are at the top, followed by CNG, LPG and petrol. But since CNG is considerably cheaper than diesel , the running cost which you incur for travelling per kilometer, works out to be cheapest in CNG cars, followed by Diesel, LPG and petrol.

Hence, if a litre of petrol will help you travel 15km, CNG will take you through 16km, LPG 13 km and Diesel 21km.

Insurance cost:

The insurance cost would be highest for diesel, followed by CNG and petrol cars. However, if you take a separate LPG or CNG kit , the insurance cost would be as per the petrol version. However, the difference in insurance cost is minimal.

Maintenance Cost:

With technological progress, maintaining a diesel car would cost Rs.2000-2500 more than a petrol or CNG version, whereas the gap was much wider in the past.

Which is the cheapest??

Though petrol costs less in the initial years owing to low sales price, interest and maintenance cost, low fuel cost and superior mileage give both diesel and CNG option an edge in the long run. LPG too is better than petrol in terms of low fuel cost but it gives less mileage. But the benefit would accrue in a diesel car as compared with a petrol car only after you have driven at least 42361 kms, you have to cover at least 19240 km in CNG and 34257 kms in LPG car to benefit over a petrol car.

What should you do??

CNG is the cheapest among the four variants. You would break even with a petrol car in about one and a half years if you cover 1000 km per month. If you wish to buy a car for atleast 5-10 years and travel close to 1000 km on a monthly basis, you would be better off with a diesel, LPG or CNG car.

But to select among diesel, LPG and CNG, you should take into account factors such as re-sale value, pick-up and fuel availability. While the lower running cost of CNG would help you save a few thousand rupees over diesel cars, other factors weigh in favour of diesel cars. Typically, with the same number of kilometers traversed, diesel cars command better resale value than petrol, LPG or CNG cars. The availability of diesel cars is less and hence they command a better resale value.

However, if you are one of those who keep changing your car after every two or three years, you may be better off with a petrol version.



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