Father Sez

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Converting my car to a NGV – My Experience

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

In view of the recent steep increase in fuel prices in Malaysia, my friend, KC Lau who blogs about personal finance suggested that I write about my experience in converting my car to a NGV. Thanks, KC for this idea.

I don’t remember when the option to fit cars with NGV kits was made available to Malaysians. (Harry says it was 23 years ago.) 

Predictably and completely befitting the name “Government”, the follow up was, shall we say, sad. Reading Harry’s blog should give us an idea of how sad! 

- There are only 40,000 users after 23 years of implementation.  

- The number of NGV filling stations (58 stations) is still very low causing  long queues at almost all of Petronas Petrol stations with one or two dispensers installed.  

And Malaysia is a huge producer of natural gas! 

So with petrol prices being relatively low and NGV availability very poor, very few Malaysians bothered to convert.

(You can see the history of petrol prices in Malaysia extracted from Najib’s Blog. (RM3.80 = USD1)) 

01/05/2004 - RM 1.37

01/10/2004 - RM 1.42

05/05/2005 - RM 1.52

31/07/2005 - RM 1.62

28/02/2006 - RM 1.92

04/06/2008 – RM2.70

The price increase in February 2006 made me start feeling the pinch. I drive an average of about 130 – 150 kms per working day and the fuel bill was getting a bit painful. I researched some websites on NGV and then took the plunge in August 2007. 

I got the car fitted in a workshop near my home and that cost me a total of RM 6,025. This included a “fee” of RM 125 because I used a credit card and another RM 700 when I changed the tank to a larger one.  

My distance travelled from January 06 (when we purchased the car) to August 2007 and fuel costs were 48,752 kms for RM 9,194.49 or RM 0.189 per km.  

Since then I have travelled a total of 40,907 kms (as at end of May 08), and paid RM3,332.97 in fuel costs or RM0.0815 per km. 

A savings of a whopping 56.8%.  (We keep detailed car logs, so these figures are easily available.) 

And these savings are before the recent 41% price hike and a relative high use of normal fuel. The savings will really start kicking in after I factor in this huge increase.  

Besides the obvious cost savings the other issues are:- 

a)    The full NGV tank can only be used for about 150 kms, thus needing frequent refilling. In my case it is daily. For me this is the biggest negative.  

b)    The filling up of the tank is dependent on the pressure at the dispenser being used. So there is some inconsistency. A full tank today may not give the same distance as the full tank of yesterday. Still the differences are not that great. 

c)     There are insufficient NGV stations around. Another big negative. So quite often I have to use normal petrol after the gas runs out. The National Oil Company, Petronas has announced that they’ll be adding in another 100 stations. Whilst this is good news, I’ll feel better once the stations are up. 

d)    I keep a print out of the NGV stations in the country. Then if by chance, I am near one, I try to fill up. Now a number of the stations have been etched in my memory.

e)    Sometimes, there seems to be some delay in the NG reaching the carburettor. Hence the car sort of jerks or doesn’t move. This only happens when we are starting the car. A little irritating at times, but not really a big negative.  

f)      There is less power when we use NGV. This is hardly a problem, since we can seamlessly switch on to petrol if we need a burst of speed for overtaking or something like that. 

g)    The NGV tank takes up part of the boot space. This problem is worse for the MPV’s and the smaller cars. I drive a Toyota Camry and so far I have had no problem with the reduced boot space.  

h)    NGV is acknowledged to be better for the environment as well as for the car. However, I have not noticed any clear savings on the servicing costs.  

I think NGV is the way to go. It is clear that Malaysians are moving by the droves to convert. Good for them!  

With increasing consumer awareness and pressure, I am sure more  NGV dispensing stations will start sprouting up. Then Malaysian motorists would be back to the days of “cheap fuel.”   

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