Abu Dhabi’s fleet of taxis, government vehicles and buses are being switched to compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of a concerted mission to move towards sustainable environmentally friendly solutions.
More than 6,000 vehicles in Abu Dhabi have been adapted from fossil fuels to CNG since 2010 to date. Emirates Transport began switching petrol vehicles to CNG in August 2010.
Emirates Transport, a Federal entity, which is responsible for converting petrol and diesel vehicles to CNG, is gradually expanding its reach to other northern emirates, too.
In an interview with Gulf News, Mahir Al Syed Ali, manager at the Abu Dhabi Technical Services Centre of Emirates Transport, said: “We generally focus on converting government and commercial vehicles but it’s entirely open for private vehicle owners, too.”
He asserted that the switch to CNG protects the environment and saves money, too. “If a person converts his car from petrol to CNG, he saves up to 40 per cent.”
Since 2010, there has been no increase in prices of CNG. It’s still being traded at Dh1.4 for a cubic metre of CNG, while petrol prices crossed Dh2 for a litre. “Since the petrol prices are increasing each month but CNG prices are fixed, so motorists can gain much profit with similar vehicle performance and 100 per cent safety,” Ali said.
A four-cylinder vehicle’s CNG tank can be filled for just Dh18 providing a range of about 250 kilometres. But Dh18 will only fetch 9 litres of petrol at current rates, translating into a driving range of not more than 80 kilometres.
“It’s 100 per cent safe and technology is from Italy with German inspectors. We haven’t seen any explosion even when vehicle had major crashes,” he said.
The conversions don’t affect vehicle performance either and CNG vehicles are also fitted with an auto switch to use petrol in case CNG finishes, he added.
Mercedes airport taxis, which are propelled by diesel, have also been converted to CNG.
Emirates Transport is aiming to equip all Adnoc gas stations with at least one CNG terminal by the end of 2018.
About 25 Adnoc stations are already equipped with CNG terminals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
“We are trying to add at least one CNG terminal to all Adnoc gas stations, and by end of next year, we are trying to do that,” Ali said.
Currently there are four conversion centres — one centre each in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah.
“By next year, we are planning to open a new CNG conversion centre in Al Gharbia of Abu Dhabi Emirate, he said. “Now the Emirates Transport is working to spread CNG in other northern emirates as well,” he observed.
Converting diesel vehicles
“From the beginning of this year, we received approval for converting diesel buses and vehicles to CNG. So far, we have converted 10 buses to CNG and other five will be converted by first week of next month,” he said.
Emirates Transport had approved the conversion of 15 of its diesel buses, he said.
Converting one vehicle to CNG takes three to four hours depending on the engine‘s cylinders and vehicle make.
By the end of 2014, Emirates Transport had converted 3,100 vehicles to CNG.
Benefits of natural gas vehicles
The rising cost of gasoline fuel is prompting many people to explore options to retrofit or convert their vehicles to run on natural gas fuel as the price of natural gas is cheaper than gasoline.
In general, natural gas costs less than gasoline at the filling station.
Converting a vehicle to natural gas involves an initial outlay but there are incentives available that can offset or recover these costs. Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) have lower operating costs given that the price of natural gas is 50 per cent less than gasoline price besides markedly lower maintenance costs. Since natural gas burns cleanly, it results in less wear and tear on the engine and extends the time between tune-ups and oil change.
Those who wish to convert their vehicles can approach the customer care centre of Emirates Transport at 02 4942277 and 02 6522633.
– 8 cylinders Dh7,821 for 75-litre cylinder capacity
– 6 cylinders Dh6,551 for 65-litre cylinder capacity
– 6 cylinders Dh6,651 for 75-litre cylinder capacity
– 4 cylinders DhDh5,651 for 50-litre cylinder capacity
– 4 cylinders DhDh5,751 for 65-litre cylinder capacity
– 4 cylinders DhDh5,851 for 75-litre cylinder capacity
All prices include Dh400 towards inspection fees, Dh51 towards Adnoc registration fees and a warranty for 24 months or 100,000km, whichever comes earlier, besides towing services. Extension of the one-year warranty costs Dh600.
Approximate savings for vehicles converted from petrol to CNG: 40 per cent
Reduction in emissions
– Carbon dioxide by 20 to 25%
– Carbon monoxide by 50 to 80%
– Nitrogen oxide by 25 to 60%
Comparative fuel costs
– Petrol costs Dh2.12 a litre (Super)
– CNG costs Dh1.40 a cubic metre
– Diesel costs Dh2.10 a litre
Source: Gulf News