World's first CNG-powered motorcycle launches in June

World's first CNG-powered motorcycle launches in June
Baja Auto is reported to be launching the world's first CNG motorcycle in June (Bajaj RS200 model shown)
Baja Auto is reported to be launching the world's first CNG motorcycle in June (Bajaj RS200 model shown)
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Baja Auto is reported to be launching the world's first CNG motorcycle in June (Bajaj RS200 model shown)
Baja Auto is reported to be launching the world's first CNG motorcycle in June (Bajaj RS200 model shown)

Over the years, we've seen a number of suggested replacements for gasoline to fuel motorcycles – including steam, hydrogen, water and batteries. Now a moto maker is getting ready to launch what's billed as the world's first CNG motorcycle.

CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas, which as its name suggests is "produced by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure." It can be used as a fuel source for internal combustion engines, where a cylindrical tank feeds the gas through fuel lines via a pressure regulator before reaching the combustion chamber to be mixed with air and ignited by spark plug.

Like LPG – or Liquefied Natural Gas – it's often viewed as a cleaner and cheaper alternative to petrol, diesel or gasoline for transportation and can be found installed in buses, trucks and even cars and trikes. Though there have been CNG conversion kits available around the globe for a while, the upcoming CNG motorcycle from India's Bajaj Auto is claimed to be the world's first production model.

Prototyping has been underway since at least last year, when the company's MD, Rajiv Bajaj, told CNBC-TV18 in a November 2023 interview that it had recorded "a 75% reduction in carbon monoxide" with the CNG prototype compared to a petrol-fueled moto, while also noting a significant drop in CO2 emissions and "almost zero" non-methane hydrocarbons.

He also reckoned riders could look forward to "a 50 to 65% reduction in the operating cost in terms of the fuel bill." So there appear to be solid environmental and penny-pinching benefits to such a moto being released, and Bajaj Auto's home turf is probably as good a production testbed as any to start the ball rolling – where the motorcycle market in general is projected to be worth some US$31 billion this year.

At the time of the CNBC-TV18 interview, the company was working toward a 2025 launch window, but it looks like that timeline has now been revised, with the Times of India now reporting a June 18 announcement.

Road-tested prototypes look to have started life as regular models before being modified for the new fuel source. ZogWheels posted a couple of pics of a camouflaged bike with a comically large fuel tank in March, that was reportedly benchmarking runs alongside a Bajaj Platina 110 model – suggesting that the CNG bike could roll as a 110cc-equivalent.

RushLane followed later in the month with more grainy photos accompanied by the suggested possibility of a 125cc powertrain and a dual-fuel setup, as well as a few potential specs like 17-inch wheels wrapped in 80/100 tubeless tires, a semi-digital instrument panel, telescopic forks and rear monoshock, and a LED headlight.

As for the upcoming CNG motorcycle, very little has been revealed by Bajaj Auto and there's no way of telling whether the sketchy prototype specs and build details will make their way to the production model. If the reported launch window is correct, then we won't have too long to wait before the as-yet-unnamed genuine article makes its official debut.

Source: Bajaj Motors via the Times of India

I checked this story because I wondered why a CNG bike might be newsworthy. I assume there are already propane bikes or at least conversion kits. A 125cc bike already has low fuel costs, so a small reduction in fuel cost probably won't have a reasonable payback period. There might even be a higher insurance cost due to the compressed fuel.
CNG is not a clean energy source.
NB. Cost savings on Alternative fuels are nearly always purely tax smoke and mirrors.
Once a significant number of people switch, the taxes are added and the illusion bursts.

Most benchmarks notes are meaningless, CO can be reduced massively in petrol powered engines through ECU tuning, and more efficient injection.

CNG in ICEs while nothing new, ..., ok, give credit to a production model.