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Wednesday June 25, 2008
By DERRICK VINESH email@example.com
UNABLE to bear the high fuel prices, many Penangites are switching to compressed natural gas (CNG) even though it is only available at a single Petronas station in Jalan Perusahaan, Prai.
But the Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) installation kits have run out of stock in the state, causing the waiting list to stretch to September.
Several NGV installers in Sebe-rang Prai have reported brisk sales of the imported kits which are expected to increase in price due to high demand.
JT NGV Enterprise Sdn Bhd di-rector Agnes Ding said she recorded a 500% increase in kit sales since the June 4 fuel price increase announcement.
“We believe at least 400 vehicles in Seberang Prai have been installed with NGV kits since May. I have sold about 200 NGV kits since May,” she said at her shop on Jalan Song Ban Kheng, Bukit Mertajam, on Monday.
Ding said she hoped to get her supply of NGV regulators and valves from Argentina as well as fiberglass gas cylinders from Chi-na by early next month.
The kits, which are available for carburetor, fuel injection and sequential injection engines, are priced from RM4,000 to RM9,000.
Ding said motorists who used CNG could save up to 80% on fuel bill. A litre of CNG costs 68sen while petrol is retailed at RM2.70 per litre.
“NGV gas cylinders are safe to install. Even if it leaks, which rarely happens, it would not ex-plode as natural gas is lighter than oxygen. It would just evaporate into the air,” she said.
She said the slow response to NGV before the recent fuel price increase was due to the lack of promotion and gas stations selling CNG.
“Now, motorists are willing to sacrifice boot space in their vehicles to install the rather bulky NGV cylinders. They also do not mind spending large sums on the installation costs,” Ding added.
Due to its environment-friendly system, Ding said NGV vehicles need only to be serviced every 7,000 km travelled compared with every 5,000km for vehicles using petrol while engine tuning could be done every three months.
A Petronas Prai station attendant said the number of motorists filling up CNG had tripled from 100-odd vehicles daily last month to about 300 vehicles daily this month.
“We have two pump nozzles at our station which enables two vehicles to fill up CNG at the same time,” he said adding that the station was open from 6.30am to 11.30pm daily.
Teacher Sani Araby, 24, said he used to spend RM80 on petrol from Butterworth to Tanjung Ma-lim, Perak, but with the NGV kit, it only cost him RM10 for the same trip.
“When I installed the 70-litre cylinder NGV kit in January, it cost me RM2,800. Now, it has gone up to RM4,000,” he said.
Businesswoman Noorhayati Hassan, 36, said since switching to CNG in April, she only spent about RM300 on CNG, instead of RM600 on petrol to travel between Parit Buntar and Taiping daily.
Goh Liang Wing, 48, who travels daily to work in Haadyai, said the sequential injection NGV kit in Thailand cost only RM2,000.
“The authorities should control the price of the installation kits to make them more affordable to motorists,” he said.
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