THE BIG PICTURE
It’s the classic chicken-and-egg scenario. How can
distributors get CNG-related work if they don’t have the
experience? And how can they get the experience if
they don’t get the work?
These questions are important because a number of
signs are beginning to suggest that CNG has a chance—
maybe a very good chance—to break out into a much
more prominent place in the nation’s fuel supply.
The basic advantages of CNG have long been
known, among them:
• Lower emissions. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that CNG
reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as
97 percent. Other pollutants—from carbon dioxide
to particulates—also see signi;cant decreases.
• Domestic production. About 85 percent of
the nation’s CNG supply currently derives from
domestic sources. And, if anything, that number
is likely to go up, not down, as new shales are
tapped and ef;cient hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
and horizontal drilling solutions are perfected.
• Low retail fuel prices. The growing supply and low
transportation costs suggest that the current retail
price advantage CNG holds over petroleum (a gallon
equivalent of CNG is roughly one-third less expensive
than a gallon of gas) isn’t going away anytime soon.
• Reduced vehicle maintenance. The cleaner-burning fuel results in less damage to crucial
Like any motor fuel, of course, mainstream
acceptance of CNG is not without obstacles. This
article will look at two of the biggest: the relatively
small number of CNG vehicles currently on the road
and the limited CNG fueling infrastructure.
The good news? The outlook on both fronts is as
positive as it has been in a long time. All sorts of indicators give reason for optimism—the kind of optimism
that should prompt increasing numbers of PEI members
to give CNG fueling equipment a serious look.
VEHICLE AVAILABILIT Y
At present, only one factory-produced natural gas
vehicle (NGV) is on the market in the United States. But
it’s a good one. The Honda Civic Natural Gas (formerly
known as the Civic GX) was recently named the 2012
Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
As of October 2011, the car is available in all 50 states
for ;eet sales and in 35 states for retail sales.