A school district in the US state of Pennsylvania is adding 80 propane autogas school buses over the next six years according to Next-Gen Transportation. By switching from diesel to propane the school district expects to save $372,000.

Bosch, the world’s biggest car parts supplier, believes that shale gas finds in the US could result in a surge in demand for natural gas vehicles in the US, observes The Financial Times. The Stuttgart, Germany company produces injectors for compressed natural gas powered vehicles and flexible control units that enable both gasoline and CNG injection for internal combustion engines.

“The discovery of new gas deposits could mean that the US will become an emerging market for compressed natural gas powertrains,” Bernd Bohr, head of automotive at Bosch, said.

CNBC posts the US trucking industry is about to expand its use of natural gas. “This month, Cummins, a leading engine manufacturer, began shipping big, new engines that make long runs on natural gas possible. A skeletal network of refueling stations at dozens of truck stops stands ready.”  The site notes that major shippers like major companies like Proter & Gamble and UPS are purchasing trucks that run on natural gas or are using companies with natural gas trucks in their fleets. UPS is adding 700 LNG (liquified natural gas) trucks to its fleet using a new Cummins engine made by Westport that enables long distance trucking for 18 wheel trucks. About two-thirds of the diesel purchased as transportation fuel in the US is used by three million 18-wheelers, the main trucks hauling goods over long distances.

Now, as name-brand manufacturers and chains like Nike and Walmart have pressed for transportation of their goods by natural gas vehicles and companies like U.P.S., FedEx and Ryder System have started exploring the option, truck makers have begun bringing natural gas vehicles to the market. Major manufacturers, including Navistar and Volvo, have plans to offer long-haul natural gas vehicles.

See also DOMESTICFUEL UPS Ramps Up Its Natural Gas Fleet.

In a related article, Green Car Reports explains why it makes more sense to use natural gas in trucks rather than cars.

Chrysler prefers natural gas vehicles over electric vehicles we learn from DIGITAL TRENDS. Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced recently that the auto maker is losing $10,000 on every 2014 electric Fiat 500 it sells. “Regulators are rushing precipitously toward embracing (electric vehicles) as the only solution,” he said during a speech at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress at Cobo Center, reported the Detroit News. “Doing that on a large scale will be masochism in the extreme.” Natural gas, on the other hand, he views as the cleanest alternative fuel available and NGVs are much cheaper to produce.

Fiat General Manager Stefano Re Fiorentin told one news source that whereas a hybrid costs about $9,000 more than a conventional gas powered vehicle and a battery-electric car roughly $21,000 more, a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) car will only cost about $ 4,000 more.  

The New York Times reports that Russia would rather produce NGVs than hybrids. CNG in Russia sells for about $2 a gallon less than gasoline. As a result conversion kits are very popular and natural gas has been adopted by lower-income and rural drivers, along with farmers and operators of light-duty trucks. This has led a large Russian carmaker, Russian Machines, to announce it is going to include this year natural gas systems as standard on buses and light utility trucks. The biggest issue in Russia, as it will be in any country that tries a conversion from petrol to natural gas, is where drivers can refuel both in town and on the highway.  This will be the next challenge for the country if it is to convert its enormous natural gas supplies into a domestic transportation fuel.

The American Clean Skies Foundation released a report last week on the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the US. Entitled Driving on Natural Gas: Fuel Price and Demand Scenarios for Natural Gas Vehicles to 2025, its main conclusion is that a transition to natural gas-fueled heavy duty and light duty vehicles over the next decade will have a minimal impact on natural gas prices. NGV growth is expected to be slow with transportation only accounting for 2% of total US natural gas demand by 2025.

By 2025, we estimate roughly 2.4 million NGVs will be on the road, of which 480,000 are heavy duty trucks. These vehicles will consume about 711 Bcf of gas annually by 2025 and displace over 180 million barrels of oil.

The US state of Florida is offering school boards funds to convert school buses to natural gas reports Next Generation Transportation. The funds can be used to convert an existing bus to run on CNG, or the award can help cover the incremental cost of purchasing a new CNG bus versus a comparable diesel unit. The grants will range from $25,000 to $40,000 per vehicle, and school district fleets can be awarded no more than $500,000 in total.

In the UK food retailer Tesco will be running 35 heavy-duty trucks on bio-LNG says E2Bpulse. Tesco is the country’s largest retail chain. The bio-LNG, supplied by Gasrec, is a blend of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid biomethane (LBM) – a natural, green source of renewable energy produced from organic matter such as household food waste and sewage.

The public transport system in the city of Shreveport in the US state of Louisiana now has 14 CNG powered buses and a CNG refueling station. The plan is to have the entire fleet of buses converted to CNG by 2020.

FutureCars has a posting on CNG refueling stations.



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