Mowasalat and Q-Auto officials at the launch of the first CNG-run car in Qatar yesterday.
: Jayaram

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Karwa received yesterday the first-ever car in Qatar to be run on compressed natural gas (CNG), manufactured by Volkswagen, at a ceremony.

At the event the German automobile company’s distributors in Qatar, Q-Auto, announced their plans to increase the number of CNG-run vehicles in Qatar in coming days.

The new vehicle is considered a major initiative on the party of Qatar to boost its ongoing campaigns highlighting eco-friendliness.                                                      

The Volkswagen-manufactured VW Passat EcoFuel car, which was displayed at the ceremony, was received on behalf of Karwa by the government public transport firm’s director of Taxi and Limousine Abdulla Ali Bahzad.

Earlier at a meeting both Bahzad and Q-Auto officials stressed even though the CNG-run cars and other vehicles from the company would be 15-20% costlier than the other vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen in the long run their maintenance costs would be at least 15% cheaper.

Speaking on the occasion Bahzad said Mowasalat has stepped up its efforts to promote the CNG’s use in the transport sector. This is in line with the directives issued by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to promote the importance of CNG as a fuel for transportation in the country,

He disclosed that the company plans to introduce 70 CNG-run buses later this year.

“Of them 60 would be Mowasalat’s public transport buses. Already the company is operating some of its existing bus fleet on CNG as part of a pilot project to popularise its use, in association with the Qatar Petroleum,” he said.

Answering a query he said that the company plans to operate its entire public transport fleet consisting of buses and taxis on CNG once the facility for conversion is established in Qatar.

 “The conversion (of public transport) to CNG would be explored phase by phase when proper infrastructure for the same is built in Qatar,” he explained.

Speaking later Q-Auto general manager Kevin Hughes and marketing manager Antonio Leol explained that conversion of the public transport vehicles to CNG would be possible only when adequate infrastructure is made in the country.

“The vehicle that we handed over to Karwa is equipped with all necessary environment-friendly components and it was tested in different conditions to understand its efficiency and effectiveness,” said Hughes.

At the meeting Mowasalat business development manager Brett Subritzsky was also present.

“The vehicle is run on the first direct-injection turbo engine and emits 23% less CO2 compared to similar petrol models,” said Leol, while adding that the car will refuel from a specialised CNG filling facility, reducing emissions by 39%  over a comparable gasoline vehicles.

He also said several thousands of cars and other vehicles manufactured by his company in Germany are already operated on advanced CNG features.

The Passat Estate TSI EcoFuel is powered by a 1.4 litre TSI 110 kw (148 hp) engine running on either natural gas or gasoline, and is capable of covering 210km.