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by Narasimhan Santhanam

This posevnext-logo-v-smallt is a part of EV Next’s EV Perspectives.

EV Nexta division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian e-mobility sector.


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CNG vehicles in India – Expected adoption trends for 2020-2030

The CNG vs EV play in India in the 2020-2030 period will be a nuanced trend.

Both EV and CNG vehicles have the same driver, less pollution and less greenhouse gas emissions. Both these have significant support from the central government. While the Ministry for Petroleum and Natural Gas is heavily promoting CNG, the Ministry of Highways & Road Transport is heavily promoting electric mobility.

Both these ministries have stacked up significant investments to be made for their corresponding priority areas. While the Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry is investing heavily in creating a vast natural gas distribution infrastructure nationwide, the Ministry of Road Transport is investing significantly in incentivizing electric vehicles & EV charging infrastructure through the FAME II scheme and also actively investing on its own in creating an EV charging infrastructure.

Given that both ministries are targeting the same user segment (road transport), their actions sometimes indeed seem to conflict. So, which of the two – CNG or electric vehicles – will dominate?

Analysis by EAI suggests that all factors considered, between EV and CNG, the 2020-2030 period will predominantly belong to CNG. It will be only close to 2030 that EVs will start dominating over CNG in terms of end-user adoption and numbers. This will be especially true for cars and heavier vehicles such as buses.


Enduring the long lines at petrol or CNG pumps.

One has to stand in line and breathe in all that awful exhaust smoke.

Charging at home or using public charging points like the malls is more convenient than enduring the long lines at petrol or CNG pumps

Ride Quality & Effort

Changing gears and managing the clutch can get quite exhausting, especially in heavy traffic.

Electric cars have no clutches or gears, so one can have a smooth ride wherever they go. Plus, there are no vibrations and no engine noise, so the ride is super quiet.


CNG cars emit greenhouse gases as well, but considerably fewer than petrol or diesel cars. Research from the Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi, shows that the CO2 emissions for a CNG bus are around 729.74 g/km.

The number is even lower for a passenger car like a small hatchback, around 100 g/km.

A CNG car, the total CO2 emissions for a day (considering 40 km drive) would have around 4000 grams of emission.

CNG car emits fewer emissions than a petrol or diesel car.

A common bit of criticism about EV’s are that they are powered by grids that run on coal, which is as dirty as it comes. However, here are some facts:

First, if one switched to solar power (which is an option he can only have in an EV), the person can run their car on nearly clean energy.

Second, a large percentage of the grid is powered by coal plants. This results in CO2 emissions of about 32.13 g/km, factoring in power plant efficiency, transmission, and distribution, etc. Please refer to the link below to understand them well to wheel data for an electric car and how this figure is arrived at. So for the electric car, the total CO2 emissions for today’s 40 km drive would be around 1,285 grams.

So, an electric car, even if it’s powered by a coal-powered grid, emits far fewer emissions than a CNG car.


 CNG car provides around 20 km of range per kilogram. If filled up about 5 kg of CNG for a day’s ride, which would give about 100 kilometers range,In Mumbai, CNG costs Rs 45 per kg at the moment. So it cost 90 rupees to drive 40 km.

Electric cars are more economical on a daily basis than other cars.

A 40 km journey consumes around 4 units of electricity. At approximately 6 rupees per unit, that came up to only 24 rupees.

Plus, Some public places like malls offer free charging. Further, most businesses offer EV charging as a free value-add to their customers.

 Table 1: Comparison of CNG and EV on different parameters

Let’s consider cars. There are about 1.2 million CNG cars on the Indian roads today and every year for the 2020-2025 period, their population is expected to increase by another 1.5-2 lakhs.

By 2025 hence, India is expected to have about 2 million CNG cars on the road and by 2030, about 3.5 million on the road. By contrast, there are only about 12,000 electric cars on Indian roads in early 2020, and we expect this to be only about 35,000 by 2025. Only closer to 2030 do we see electric car sales picking up dramatically

For the second vehicle type that uses CNG (the three-wheelers), we expect a relatively higher growth for electric vehicles during the 2020-2025 period, but even in this case, the 2020-2025 period will belong to CNG in terms of annual vehicle sales. However, we expect electric 3 wheelers to start having sales growth compared to those for CNG 3 wheelers post 2025 and by 2030, electric 3 wheelers could even have outpaced CNG 3 wheelers in terms of annual sales.

For the third segment electric buses, we expect CNG buses to dominate for a major portion of the 2020-2030 period, especially in those regions where CNG buses are already dominant (Delhi-CNR for instance). For these regions, CNG buses present such an effective and efficient ecosystem today that electric buses cannot easily dislodge them, especially when electric buses cost more than twice that of CNG buses. Similar to cars, we expect electric buses to have sales comparable to those for CNG buses in these regions only close to 2030. For regions where CNG buses are not yet prevalent (many cities in south India, for instance), electric buses could start having sales comparable to those for CNG buses earlier than 2030, but it will still be post-2025.


  1. CNG programme in India: The future challenges


Read our other blogs: EV Supply Chain | EV Value Chain | FCEV Trends | Indian FCEV R&D | CNG vs EV | Import & Customs |

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