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State Governors Ask For Natural-Gas Cars, Industry Listens

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2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, El Segundo, CA, Nov 2011

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, El Segundo, CA, Nov 2011

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Last week, governors of more than 20 states joined together to ask the auto industry for a specific kind of car: a mid-size sedan powered by natural gas, rather than gasoline.

This week, the industry responded, with auto-company representatives gathering in Oklahoma City to discuss the request with Governor Mary Fallin, a member of the governors' group.

Fourteen of the governors signed a memorandum of understanding to support the effort, but as of this week, an additional eight states have signed onto a collective Request For Proposal (RFP) to buy the natural-gas sedans for use in state fleets.

Today, while there are several heavy-duty trucks that can run on natural gas, there's only a single passenger vehicle: the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas.

It's built in Ohio, and has been for a decade, but sales have averaged 2,000 units a year or less.

The governors hope that the combined sizes of their state vehicle fleets--many thousands of vehicles--may be enough to persuade a carmaker, preferably one of the Detroit Three, to design and sell a car they could use to replace gasoline-powered vehicles.

The 20 states, including Colorado and Oklahoma, are those where natural gas is produced.

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas

Enlarge Photo

There are roughly 1,000 natural-gas fueling stations nationally, against about 120,000 gasoline stations, meaning that natural-gas vehicles may require detours to fill up.

But the allure of a locally produced fuel--contributing to jobs, lower emissions, energy security, and reducing the national trade deficit--is a powerful one, and the governors urged the auto industry to take natural gas as seriously as gasoline, diesel, and plug-in cars.

The U.S. now has substantial proven natural-gas reserves--enough for much of this century, some say. And it's available more quickly than most had expected just 10 years ago.

With the new and controversial "fracking" technique allowing natural gas to be extracted from more sources, some have said the U.S. will literally be awash in the fuel within the current decade.

2013 Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup truck - natural-gas fuel system only

2013 Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup truck - natural-gas fuel system only

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As a result, natural-gas prices have fallen substantially, reducing the cost of driving on natural gas in some regions to less than $2 per gallon-equivalent.

Today, natural-gas fueled vehicles are largely medium- and heavy-duty trucks, most often converted rather than factory-built. But that's changing.

In March, GM launched bi-fuel versions of its 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD pickup trucks. One week later, Dodge announced a bi-fuel version of its Ram 2500 HD pickup.

The governors' effort is assisted by the Drive Natural Gas Initiative, a consortium that brings together producers and distributors of natural gas to advocate for more NGVs.

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Comments (7)
  1. "U.S. will literally be awash in the fuel "

    Literally? I don't think so. and can you be "awash" in a gas :)
     
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  2. [chuckle] Literary license ...
     
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  3. CNG hybrid is a better approach...
     
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  4. Volt + CNG would be cool. Since Volt sips gas only if you run the battery down and Volt drivers state that they can go months without burning gas - wouldn't a CNG burner make sense there? I know it would technically add cost and inconvenience to the car's design but it could let drivers choose to buy "local" fuel from local sourcing (ie. CNG pumped from just a few miles away instead of many thousands of miles away).
     
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  5. Indiana seems to be trying to make strides to CNG vehicles. State Representative Randy Frye (R) is really trying to push forward with this great opportunity according to his website.

    http://www.randyfrye.com/compressed-natural-gas/
     
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  6. Would like to see a longer range sedan or even a mini car. At least people shoudl petition the EPA to approve more conversion kits.
     
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  7. Car manufacturers please listen, I want a mid sized CNG car with some power. The CNG Civic is too small and too gutless. Also please make the home filling stations do more than 300 fills. I like the idea of a gas station in my garage and that will open the floodgates for CNG vehicles and make me smile turning in my expense report at $.55 cents per mile. When Israel bombs Iran which ever company has an offering in place will not be able to meet demand. Those of you building turbo engines, please turn some engineers loose on making use of the 130 octane rating of CNG in a turbo motor--that would be fun. People please quit being hybrid lemmings their value does not extend to the freeway and gas prices will keep going up.
     
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