Engineering News

Natural Gas Pump Plans May US CNG Car Sales
January 2, 2012

A major push to install 150 natural gas pumps at truck stops along the US interstate highways may be just the kick the CNG (compressed natural gas) industry needs to get consumers on board with the fuel, or at least that is the hope of a number of trade associations pushing for more adoption of the fuel. The US has copious amounts of natural gas in shale resources, to the point where exports of excess natural gas are being readied. But with a dearth of CNG-powered vehicles available for public purchase (the Honda Civic NG is the only one on the market), there has been no demand for the fuel or development of an infrastructure to support it. So instead, trade association NGV Global is focusing on long-haul trucks as a starter instead. "If you're trying to reduce foreign imports of oil, you're trying to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions in urban areas, where do you put your effort? You put it on the big vehicles," association president Rich Kolodziej told the Associated Press.

Significance:The US has one of the smallest percentages of CNG-powered vehicles in the world, just about 112,000, or less than a tenth of one percent of the 254 million vehicles in the US. By contrast, there are 6.8 million in the Asia-Pacific region, 4.2 million in Latin America, and 1.4 million in Europe. The fuel is mentioned as a ready-made way to wean the US off foreign oil for transportation purposes, and it would perhaps do so suitably well--but Americans decide these things with their wallets, not their consciences , and as long as it is economically less viable to pursue a CNG vehicle (either due to scarcity of offerings or limits to infrastructure), it will not catch on in any major way. Pursuing the big truck fleet however may be a better strategy, given that the conversion is easier, the fuelling infrastructure can be installed quickly, and the cost benefits to fleet operators are far more demonstrable and tangible than at the consumer level.

Source: Global Insight

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