Sunday, January 24, 2010

Skoda plans clean drive with LPG, Greenline engines

Manu P. Toms

Mumbai, Jan. 21

Czech carmaker Skoda will launch LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) variants of its cars retailed in India. It is also planning to introduce its ‘Greenline engines' known for their low emissions and high fuel efficiency.

The first LPG option will be made available in the Laura. Mr Thomas Kuehl, Board Member, Skoda India, told Business Line that this would be a factory-fitted LPG engine, which will also offer petrol as an option. However, he did not indicate when this variant would debut in the market.

The company will, likewise, be open to an LPG option for the Fabia hatchback though Mr Kuehl said it was “too early to say” when this would happen.

As a result, Skoda is likely to create the infrastructure needed for manufacturing LPG cars at its Aurangabad plant. It will also join a growing list of carmakers which offer LPG options in their product offerings right from Maruti Suzuki (Wagon R and 800) and Hyundai (Santro and Accent) to General Motors India (Spark) and Tata Motors with the Indica Xeta.

Skoda is upbeat about its Greenline engines, especially with cleaner fuel norms scheduled to be implemented nationwide from April 1. These engines emit less carbon dioxide than conventional ones and have been doing well in Europe. Now, with Bharat Stage 3 and 4 petrol and diesel to be retailed in the coming months, Skoda believes the timing is right.

“We have Greenline engines which can be introduced in all our models. We are thinking about bringing them to India but nothing is finalised,” said Mr Kuehl. The likelihood of erratic BS 3 fuel supplies for some months could have also prompted Skoda to take one thing at a time.

The carmaker, which launched its second boutique showroom in the country in Mumbai, plans to increase its dealerships to 75 (from 65) by the end of this calendar

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