Ever-tightening emissions restrictions are forcing vehicle manufacturers to explore all sorts of alternative power options. Of course, electric power is fast becoming a ubiquitous alternative to internal combustion. But within the realm of the ICE, there are quite a few innovations.

A good example of this comes in the form of CNG, or compressed natural gas. This is something Indian motorcycle manufacturer Bajaj has its sights set on, with company CEO Rajiv Bajaj announcing accelerated development of the company’s new CNG platform.

So how does a CNG vehicle work? Well, the basic idea is that natural gas, consisting primarily of methane, is compressed and stored in a tank. As you ride along, the gas is fed into the engine, where it mixes with air. This mixture of air and gas is then ignited similarly as regular gasoline-powered ICEs.

A notable benefit here is that CNG is touted as a cleaner option when compared to gasoline, as it emits fewer pollutants. Rajiv Bajaj explains that when it comes to tailpipe emissions, Co2 is down by nearly 50 percent, while carbon monoxide drops by around 75 percent. Furthermore, non-methane hydrocarbons are said to decrease by about 90 percent. So while CNG is by no means a zero-emissions alternative, it certainly stands as a life-extender for the good old internal combustion engine.

Bajaj already produces CNG-powered rickshaws for commercial use

Bajaj already produces CNG-powered rickshaws for commercial use

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More than just reduced emissions, India’s economy is driven by efficiency. This means lowering costs to whatever extent possible, and Bajaj’s CNG bikes hope to provide users with twice the mileage (effectively halving the cost) with every tank of gas—something that will surely please the great majority of commuters on a budget.

When it comes to the specific timelines of Bajaj’s first-ever CNG bike, well, we won’t have to wait that long as it’s confident that it’ll be ready for launch within the first half of 2024. This is quite a bold statement, as the company’s initial plans eyed a 2025 launch.

Initiatives exploring the use of alternative fuels are always a good thing. Sure, electrification has proven to be a reliable, long-term solution. But it’s always good to have lots of options.

And while CNG isn’t exactly a zero-emissions alternative, it could lay the foundations for more advanced research with the use of other alternative fuels such as hydrogen and other e-fuels.

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