US grants and Natural Gas Vehicles

Natural Gas Car

Natural Gas Car

Very few natural gas vehicles have been sold in the US, despite the same vehicles being promoted as a cleaner-burning alternative to gas engines and a way to reduce US’ heavy reliance on imported oil.

The adoption of natural gas vehicles in the United States is accompanied by the following key provisions:

* A lack of a network of fuelling stations. Compared to almost 110,000 traditional gasoline and diesel stations, there are only 1,300 natural gas stations in the US.

* A federal rebate of $10,000 for natural gas cars and up to $64,000 for heavy trucks will be appointed by the Senate legislation.

* Toyota Motor Corp has sold about 900,000 Prius hybrids in the US market over the ten years, compared to the 110,000 CNG vehicles, almost all of which were buses, delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles.

* The only major auto-maker to offer a natural gas passenger car to the US has been Honda. 83 dealers in California, New York, Oklahoma and Utah the Civic GX. About 3,500 Civic GX sedans have been sold by the Japanese automaker in 2.5 years.

*The natural gas version of the Honda Civic carries a $7,000 premium over the gasoline version, while costing just over $25,000. An attempt by Honda to promote a home-refuelling station for its Civic GX in 2005 failed to generate profit and off-loaded the product on a California firm.

* Natural gas version of the Transit Connect van was offered by Ford Motor Co to taxi companies. A compressed natural gas version of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was put on the market by General Motors. After-market conversions for other vehicles are also available from a range of firms.

* The fuel could provide 40%, as opposed to the current 20% of U.S. energy needs in the coming decades said a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released this month. High-mileage fleet vehicles like cabs could be converted to run on CNG.

* This technology is widespread overseas, despite its limited sales in the US. With over 2.3 million natural gas vehicles on its roads, Pakistan is the world leader. Liquefied natural gas is also the go-to fuel for taxi fleets in Tokyo and Seoul.

-Chris Termeer