Nigeria is poised for major innovation in the automotive sector. The gradual shift from Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or “petrol” to gas-run vehicles is expected to put new spins on the wheels, reports TAJUDEEN ADEBANJO
The launch of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) on December 1, last year by President Muhammadu Buhari set the ball rolling for the evolution of vehicles running on gas in the country.
Showing its seriousness to gas-run vehicles evolution, the Federal Government early this year said it would convert one million vehicles from Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to gas by the end of the year.
Some stakeholders in the automotive industry lauded this initiative. The move has further opened the industry to more investors. The initiative is part of 2017 Paris Convention resolutions to reducing Greenhouse gases.
Besides oil, Nigeria is richly endowed with abundant natural gas that if well harnessed would not only advance the economy of the country but also boost economic activates and offer opportunities for job creation.
According to Managing Director, Planet Projects Limited, Biodun Otunola, the policy is one of best in the sector.
Otunola urged the government to kick-start the conversion with passenger vehicles.
He stated that average Nigerian spent 50 per cent of income on transport.
“This is because of high cost of fuel. With this conversion, transport fare will crash. Let government implements it first with the public transport,” he advised.
In April, Autogas Africa THLD Group, took the lead by launching Autogas at its Flash Gas station in Ojota New Garage, Lagos.
According to its Managing Director, Mr Segun Olajuwon, the firm will start conversion of vehicles’ PMS to gas in June.
The Flash Gas station, he said, will convert up to 30 vehicles weekly.
He said government’s one million vehicles’ conversion was achievable
“A million vehicles conversion by the end of the year is achievable because gas is available. It is clean. We took a bold step to set up this facility to key into the government’s policy,” he said.
Also, an indigenous energy firm, OMAA, recently unveiled vehicles that would run on gas.
OMAA presented the country’s first locally-assembled natural gas-powered buses at the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) in Abuja.
Its founder, Chinedu Oguegbu, said the company was starting up with energy mobility, which vehicles were going on compressed natural gas and gas powered generators.
He said the company was committed to maximising Nigeria’s potential in gas utilisation.
According to Oguegbu, Omaa vehicles are assembled in Igbo-Ukwu, Anambra State.
He said: “This is the beginning of a trend that will revolutionise not just the automotive industry, but the energy industry. The nation is transiting to a gas-powered economy and OMAA’s goal is to drive this and accelerate it. We have our products on display ranging from generators, including the ones that are already using petrol.
“We construct buses that are rugged, customisable and adapted to Nigerian roads, as well as gas-powered solutions to foster sustainable energy usage in homes and commercial buildings.
“We have conversion kits that can make you now to switch to using LPG, which is safer and commercially viable. So, you save money when you switch to gas.
“Not only are our vehicles assembled by local talents, our facility also includes a training centre which has the ambition to provide subsidised training in gas conversion technology to at least one hundred participants.”
He appealed for the Federal Government’s support, saying: “If the government supports the industry, we are going to see more people employed; we see more growth and development. The African Continental Free Trade is already in force, what that means is that our borders are going to be progressively opened. Before now, there’s no assistance, but we are seeking government support in providing access finance bases, also for expansion of the manufacturing plant in the state, we need to grow, we need to expand our standard, we need to do a lot more,” giving single digit low interest funds will go a long way to making sure that we remained in business.”
Another firm, Austrian Technologies Nigeria Limited, has concluded plans to roll out locally-assembled ECO Green buses in the country
The buses already being used in major cities of the world are powered by recovered compressed natural gas (CNG), which is usually flared in the Niger Delta, and causing environmental pollution and crisis in the region.
Chief Executive Officer of Austrian Technologies Nigeria Limited, Johann Rieger, said the ECO-green buses had been built on European standards for critical climate and infrastructure as in Nigeria.
According to him, the buses are the safest and most economic public mass transit vehicles that can reduce carbon footprints by 95 per cent and operating cost by 30 per cent.
Specifically, he said the buses, coming with a lifespan of at least 15 years, had been equipped with engines of higher emission standards (Euro 5) with no toxic, smog or smoke, guaranteeing reduced noise and lower fuel costs. In Malaysia, those buses run 15 years with over 90 per cent average uptime.
Rieger also said the project would guarantee local capacity building of the buses through extensive transfer of the technology and know-how within a short time of the entire value chain.
Indeed, he said, “Up to 70 per cent of all components of the eco-green buses should be manufactured or assembled locally within five years of operation including the first green engine.”
He said the project would come with uniquely designed and efficient drivers’ safety training that would allow safe increase of passengers’ capacity by 30 per cent in accordance with international standards of public transport.
He said the vehicle had been built with the highest operational standards and expected to save the operator a minimum of $25,000 in comparison to any other large capacity bus.
He noted that six eco-green buses would do the job of at least 10 biggest BRT buses currently being operated in Nigeria and by switching over to locally available natural gas, he said at least $20,000 of foreign exchange is also saved.
He noted that driving with natural gas is the most environmentally friendly solution wherever this green fuel is available. They partnered already with local CNG suppliers who are ready to invest and guarantee 24/7 availability of the gas directly inside the bus depot of operators anywhere in the country.
About 90 per cent uptime, and maximum efficiency and transparency would be guaranteed through permanent real-time monitoring of each bus by eco- telematics and extended after-sale service with 24/7 spare parts availability and directly including service and wear parts for the first two years, said Rieger.
Some of the unique features of an ECO-green bus are given as roof mounted CNG cylinder with up to 500km range and gas leakage detection system and tyre pressure monitoring system.
The air and surfaces in their buses is permanently and chemical free sanitized by their ECO Viroxx air conditioning system with bipolar ionization.
Others are speed limiter, alcohol test and driver’s fatigue detection with driver’s biometric identification, CCTV camera system that can be directly integrated into the city surveillance system reverse camera; handicapped ramp and wheelchair area.
Rieger listed some of the technical features of the bus as electronic dashboard with extended eco-telematics system, real time driver’s feedback on safety and economic driving; on board video education in cooperation with UNICEF.
The bus is said to come on the same bus platform as 8.7m for 60 passengers; 10.5m for 80 passengers, 12m for 100 people and 18m accommodating 160 passengers.
Not wanted to be caught off-guard, the Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA) will on July 29 hold a workshop on Electric and Gas-Powered vehicles.
Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu has been invited to throw more lights on the level of government’s preparedness for Gas-Powered vehicles.
The event, with the theme ”Migration from Petrol to Electric and Gas-Powered Vehicles; Opportunities and Challenges for Nigeria,” will be held at Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja Lagos.
The annual event NAJA Chairman Mike Ochonma, said was aimed at providing a robust refresher course for auto journalists to enhance their performances and efficiency in automotive journalism especially in view of the new gas-powered technology that is gradually being accepted by many countries.
“The need for training and retraining cannot be over emphasised especially in the 21st century which is largely driven by the knowledge economy.
“Given the challenges of the times, NAJA’s resolve to continually equip members across the nation with relevant skills, and acquaint them with modern trends, tools and techniques for enhanced and effective performance, is further demonstrated through this upcoming seminar.”
He remarked that the seminar which was being organised in collaboration with key stakeholders in the auto industry will feature various experts.
The theme, he said, becomes imperative due to the gradual move away from petrol-powered to both the electric and gas-powered vehicles.
“Since this new global thinking, there are many questions and concerns from vehicle owners both from the individual and corporate fleet buyers on the implications of the new trend. It is, therefore, important for journalists covering the beat to be abreast of the new technology for them to adequately report the sector, and also be able answer questions and concerns regarding the new trends,” he said.