Why Has There not Been Larger Push to Use Natural Gas Vehicles?

By: Baki Krivevski

In the U.S. there are about 1500 natural gas stations nationwide, which are mostly in the West and are used by the federal and state government fleets, which are required by law to use certain amounts of alternative fuels. By contrast, Germany alone has nearly 800 natural gas stations. Even tiny Macedonia at the south-east of Europe has more than 200 natural gas stations.

In European Union, there are roughly 1.000.000 natural-gas-powered vehicles - about 10 percent of the world's total and at least six times the number in the United States. Almost 40 percent are in Italy.

Almost every automaker in Europe offer at least one natural gas model. Almost every big automaker in Europe offer at least one natural gas model.

Volkswagen unveiled a natural gas Passat this year at the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this month Mercedes-Benz has launched a CNG version of its subcompact B-Class.

Since 2001, Opel, GM's European brand, has sold more than 42,000 natural-gas-powered models in Europe. Opel is currently selling two CNG cars in Germany, the Meriva and the Opel Combi.

In the United States, use of natural-gas-powered vehicles is limited mostly to commercial and municipal fleets.

Honda Civic GX, which start at $24.590 and gets 28 mpg combined, is the only natural-gas-powered car offered by a major automaker. Honda sold 459 natural-gas-powered Civics in those states last year in California and New York, the states with most fueling stations.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates this car has an annual fuel cost of $884 vs. $1,754 for a conventional Civic Sedan starting at $15,010. Additionally, the federal government already offers a $4,000 credit for CNG vehicles.

Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning alternative fuels available and offers a number of advantages over gasoline. Air exhaust emissions from natural gas vehicles are much lower than those from gasoline-powered vehicles. In addition, smog-producing gases, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, are reduced by more than 90% and 60%, respectively and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is reduced by 30%-40%.

Natural gas can either be stored onboard a vehicle as compressed natural gas (CNG) at 3,000 or 3,600 psi or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) at typically 20-150 psi.

As gasoline prices averages near $4 a gallon nationwide and diesel is already above that level with $4.8 a gallon, the equivalent of a gallon of natural gas averages about $1.65.

With soaring oil and gas prices, ultimately, America needs to move entire fleet alternative energy sources.

It's obvious that natural gas is clear choice.

Mileage and Fuel
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