On Tuesday, six prototype cars powered by natural gas for their first 60 or so miles and by gasoline thereafter were unveiled in Washington, D.C.
Now, the natural-gas industry is taking them on the road to "drive a conversation about the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel for consumers"--complete with ad campaign.
The advertising effort, under the tagline "Add Natural Gas," focuses on the vehicles and the idea that consumers can drive a majority of their regular daily mileage using compressed natural gas.
The cars' original gasoline system remains in place and acts as a range extender, but in four of the six cars—a BMW X3, a Ford Mustang GT, GMC Acadia, and a Hyundai Sonata—there's no compromise to load capacity or trunk space (unlike more traditional conversions).
“Natural gas is a clean, abundant, and domestic fuel," said Kathryn Clay, Executive Director of the Drive Natural Gas Initiative.
And the new concept can allow owners and drivers to cut their fuel costs, she said, "without sacrificing style or performance."
“We believe consumers deserve more choices in the vehicles they drive," Clay said, "and the fuel they use" to power them.
The ad campaign will also bring in the idea of a home refueling appliance for natural-gas vehicles, which would be mounted in the garage and compress the low-pressure gas from a home's supply pipeline to fill the car's high-pressure storage tank.
Whirlpool and other well-known consumer appliance makers have expressed interest in developing concepts for such an appliance, and will work with the effort.
Natural-gas vehicle prototypes, Los Angeles, May 2013 - group shot at Playa del Rey storage field
Such a home-refueling appliance would let consumers avoid having to find public natural-gas fueling stations, of which only about 500 now exist nationwide.
The coalition of the Americas Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) and the American Gas Association (AGA) that funded construction of the prototype cars will now take them to various events around the country where they feel they can raise awareness about natural gas as a vehicle fuel.
Readers can get more information on the cars, including multimedia downloads and vehicle specifications, at www.addnaturalgas.com.