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EghtesadOnline: The number of CNG-hybrid taxis in Iran is estimated at around 304,000 accounting for 95% of total the cabs in the country, head of Iran Taxi Union says.

Morteza Zameni told Tasnim news agency that 95% of cabs are CNG-hybrid. The remaining 5% (10,000 taxis) use gasoline. “A large number of fossil fuel-powered taxis are dilapidated and need to be scrapped or renovated.”

The unionist points out that gasoline-powered taxis can be converted into CNG-hybrids at special centers throughout the country. “Cab owners also can apply for low-interest loans offered by the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC).”

“The loans can help further if the gas tanks already installed on hybrid taxis show signs of wear and tear. In this case, vehicle owners can visit the centers and replace the tanks,”  Financial Tribune quoted Zameni as saying.

He noted that the increasing number of CNG-hybrids in the taxi fleet helps curb fossil fuel consumption.



High Fuel Consumption

In the past 11 months to April, gasoline consumption reached 90 million liters per day, but CNG consumption was 20 million cubic meters in every 24 hours.

In Iran gasoline is costlier than CNG. One cubic meter of CNG costs 4,140 rials (3 cents), while a liter of gasoline is sold for 10,000 rials (7 cents).

In addition to being cheaper, CNG is greener and cleaner. Emission released by burning CNG is less than regular fuel. Compared to fossil fuel-powered cars, CNG-hybrids emit 70-85% less carbon monoxide and 40-60% less hydrocarbons. 

Gasoline rationing and/or raising gasoline prices have been suggested recently to help cut consumption. Neither has been implemented yet.

Oil experts say the latter cannot be implemented due to the almost certain inflationary impact on people's lives who already are under mounting pressure due to the deteriorating economic conditions.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president, launched the fuel rationing plan in 2007 to monthly sell 60 liters of subsidized gasoline to each private car via smart fuel cards at the rate of 7,000 rials (5 cents) a liter. Rules for cabs, vans and public transportation vehicles were different.

In 2015, the government of President Hassan Rouhani stopped selling subsidized fuel to passenger vehicles and gasoline was sold without limit at 10,000 rials a liter. The price has not changed since then.  

According to the Iran Fuel Conservation Company, the government annually pays $35 billion in fuel subsidies.



CNG in the Spotlight

Earlier this week it was reported that as per a scheme implemented by the NIORDC, low-interest loans are being offered to commercial and passenger vehicles using gasoline and diesel to convert into CNG-hybrid. 

Director of the CNG office at NIORDC, Hamid Qasemi, says  25 million rials ($185) is offered in collaboration with Bank Parsian and Post Bank of Iran for the shift to green energy. 

Depending on the type of vehicle, the cost of conversion is about 30 million rials ($222).

Owners of heavy-duty and passenger vehicles should refer to the website to apply for the loan. 



Underdeveloped Infrastructure

According to the NIORDC, there are 2,380 CNG stations across the country. With 82 million population, there is one CNG station for every 34,453 people.

Tehran with a population of 12 million has 264 filling stations of which 51 sell both CNG and gasoline.

Hardly 16 stations sell CNG to private cars. This means long lines and given the hectic life in the overcrowded capital, many motorists simply cannot afford to wait in the queues.



Taxi Renovation 

For long taxi drivers and the public have urged the government and urban authorities to financially help in renovating taxis with loans and other facilities.

Zameni reiterated his call saying that authorities should come up with solutions for renovating the taxis and scrapping dilapidated vehicles.

There are 150,000 dilapidated taxis and gas-guzzlers contributing terribly to the worsening air pollution. This is nearly half the total number of taxis.

Zameni earlier told IRNA that the number of dilapidated cabs will reach 245,000 by 2021 if effective measures are not taken.

Old taxis have been a serious concern adding to the deteriorating air pollution in most metropolises for years. To address the problem, the government in collaboration with local banks and carmakers introduced a taxi renovation scheme, dubbed ‘Nosazi’ (renovation in Persian) in 2016.

While Nosazi delivered some results, much more needs to be done for renovating the taxi fleet.


Iran CNG-Hybrids Taxi Fleet