Natural Gas at $2.30 a gallon versus $4 per gallon for gas is Driving Shift to Natural gas Vehicles

In 2012, Clean Energy Fuels completed the first 70 stations of America’s Natural Gas Highway, and with gasoline and diesel prices at near historic high levels, they are seeing significant interest and movement by the long-haul trucking industry to make the switch to natural gas. Clean Energy also saw growth in their core businesses of refuse (garbage trucks), transit (buses) and airports with a total of 127 new station projects completed in 2012, an 87% increase in overall station construction over 2011.

The network of compressed natural gas stations is getting fairly complete.

UPDATE – Brad Templeton information

Brad Templeton provides some useful information on natural gas vehicles.

CNG is indeed the cheapest fuel available, and it’s actually even cheaper than $2.30/gallon. In fact the price at the wellhead, uncompressed is just 43 cents per gallon equivalent, but you must pay to ship it to your car, and for the equipment and energy to compress it. A large fleet pays about 75 cents/gge for the gas, and ends up about $1.20/gge with all the other costs. Retail it’s around $2/gge. You can buy it in your house for about $1.20/gge and the compressed cost depends on how much use you get out of the $5,000 home compressor. If you have a 30mpg car you average 400 gge a year so that’s a tough slog to compete with the retail (also add electrical cost of compression.) Home compression is also an overnight thing, but retail fill-up is fast.

But the other kicker on CNG is the tank. Today’s tank is large and eats up a lot of your trunk. The CNG Honda Civic, the only CNG car on the market, costs $5K more than the other civic and has a very small trunk. (One thing the Tesla Model S shines at is trunk space, fore and aft.) And the range is not great — the tanks only hold about 8 gge — but the refill is fast unlike electric.

However, you need to travel a lot of miles to justify the extra $5K for the car, especially if you want to also justify a compression station. However, for fleet ops (where all vehicles come home each night) it’s easy to justify, and the main push now is trucks for long haul.

The International Energy Agency has done a detailed analysis of natural gas vehicles around the world.

There are many natural gas cars. Usually they can run with either natural gas or gasoline.

There are also conversions that can be performed on existing vehicles.

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