Natural gas vehicle stories from around the web

Michael Giberson

Around the web, stories about natural gas vehicles are bursting out all over (maybe prompted by this promotional effort which aims to increase the number of CNG vehicles).

  • Newsweek offers a reporter’s trip test-driving a CNG car (a Honda GX) with her children, traveling from L.A. to San Diego and up to Oakland. A few videos accompany the story, providing more insight into traveling on CNG in California. In sum, “natural gas travel is possible, it is not exactly easy, … and you can’t beat the price.”
     
    The reporter said she paid prices ranging from $2.27 to $2.99 for gas equivalent to a gallon of gasoline, while she saw gasoline prices from $3.95 to $4.56 per gallon.
  • From the Salt Lake Tribune, a story which emphasizes the state subsidies, environmental benefits, and the potential safety hazards of improperly done conversions:
     

    The number of natural-gas tanks powering Utah vehicles has exploded this year.

    Now state officials and clean-car advocates want to ensure the tanks don’t blow up, too, and that they pollute as little as intended.

  • The story in the Washington Post focuses on some “big picture” numbers (“Of 176,000 gas stations in the United States, fewer than 2,000 carry natural gas…”) and a few political angles:
     

    Many advocates, especially politicians, are attracted to natural gas because it is mostly a local resource. The United States gets 98 percent of its supply from domestic sources. And many think that recently discovered deposits of shale in Louisiana, Texas and under the Appalachian Mountains could keep the country self-sufficient for decades.

    “As recently as three years ago people thought we had a natural gas shortage in this country and that we were perilously close to being in a situation where we were going to have to import,” Emanuel said, adding that he decided to introduce his legislation after learning of the shale deposits. “Now we’re trying to figure out what to do with all this.”

  • A few days after the Trib story, the New York Times publishes it’s own report from Salt Lake City, focusing on the booming demand for natural gas vehicles in Utah. And by the way, the natural gas is primarily supplied by the state’s regulated retail natural gas supplier at regulated rates, reportedly the equivalent of 87 cents a gallon. The Times say that, “Demand is so strong at rush hour that fuel runs low, and some days people can pump only half a tank.” Also of note:
     

    Questar [the public utility] estimates the number at 6,000 and growing by several hundred a month. That is small compared with the 2.7 million vehicles registered in the state, but natural gas executives and state government officials say it makes Utah the fastest-growing market in the country for such cars.

The CNG driver’s equivalent to GasBuddy.com is CNGprices.com. (Mentioned in the Newsweek story.)


4 thoughts on “Natural gas vehicle stories from around the web

  1. “J” schools apparently are teaching “cute” and “catchy” these days. The choice of words such as “booming” and “exploding” in a story on compressed natural gas vehicles is an example.

    Natural gas and propane have been used as vehicle fuels for decades. While most NGVs are conversions, there have been original equipment, dedicated NGVs and LP vehicles as well.

    While some politicians may believe that there is plenty of natural gas to fuel our vehicle fleet, T. Boone Pickens (who has some experience and credibility with regard to both NGVs and natural gas E&P) recognizes that a significant conversion to NGVs would require a move away from the use of natural gas for electric power generation.

    Those who are concerned about the safety of vehicles which use compressed combustible gases as their fuel source should think long and hard about the advent of the “hydrogen economy”, which would rely on the same technologies for vehicle fuel storage.

    Life is not a risk free endeavor. Using energy is not a risk free endeavor. The energy consuming equipment in general use today represents a risk-reward tradeoff. The factory-built and professionally converted NGVs and LPVs on the road today have been designed and built to reasonable standards of safety. They have performed well.

  2. I haven’t seen any safety statistics or accident reports, but I can’t imagine being much more worried about a tank of compressed natural gas than a tank of gasoline. Both are hazardous under certain conditions, but the risks are manageable and apparently within public tolerances.

  3. A friend of mine owned a CNG powered truck in his packing business. It was about a 14,000 pound chassis. His complaint was when loaded it could not climb a slight hill. Passing was also dangerous because it did not have the power to accelerate quick enough to get around another vehicle.
    Does anybody have any knowledge of the power generated in a CNG fueled engine vs a gas/diesel powered one?

  4. Your right CNG Cars have been getting a ton of exposure lately. Since owning and loving my CNG Car for over 4 years now, I am actually really surprised that they haven’t caught on yet. But with the focus on the economy (how can we now save some money) and the environment I believe CNG has been getting a fair look. As it was discussed before Utah is the hot spot for NGVs. With fuel only at 87 cents it only makes since. I think there will be a lot more press on the CNG car prototype that gets 70 mpg. If your interested I have a link for about the CNG Car you to learn more.

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