The Wall Street Journal discusses the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel and the obstacles to its potential as a viable substitute for gasoline and diesel in the US. Natural gas emits less CO2 and other greenhouse gas than gasoline-fueled vehicles and does not have benzene or other chemicals that can break down parts and dilute lubricants. But before it can vie for the driver’s business, it needs to have an ubiquitous refueling network, something that may never happen.

Very few vehicles in the U.S. are equipped to run on natural gas. According to the Energy Information Administration, 99% of all energy used today in light-duty vehicles is either gasoline or diesel

The roadblock to change is a classic chicken-and-egg problem. In order for natural gas to become a mainstream transportation fuel, there must be a robust refueling network around the country. But few gas stations will install natural-gas pumps without a fleet of natural-gas vehicles, and few consumers are willing to buy an NGV unless they’re confident they’ll be able to conveniently refuel it.

Similar to hydrogen refueling stations, NGV versions are not cheap.  Most new builds are around $1 million or 100 times more expensive than a typical electric vehicle recharging point.

From China Daily we learn that US consulting firm, Navigant Research, forecasts a doubling of NGV vehicles on the road globally over the next decade. Their growth in China and Western European countries will be more rapid than that in North America. Navigant projects only 138,177 light-duty natural gas vehicles will be sold in North America in 2023 compared to 1.9 million in the Asia-Pacific market. Natural gas will continue to have a modest share of the transportation fuel market compared to gasoline and diesel in 2023, fueling just 2.6% of the cars and light-duty trucks on the road, See also environmental LEADER, Light Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Sales to Reach 3.8 million in 2023.

The International looks at compressed natural gas (CNG) market trends over the next 5 years. Transparency Market Research Reports has a new report looking at the global forecast for CNG from 2012 to 2018.  Over the next five years the growing demand for CNG will be driven by the automotive industry as it produces 28% less CO2 and other greenhouse gases compared to petrol and is benefiting from a world-wide increase in natural gas production. The global CNG vehicle market is expected to reach 19 million units by 2018 as many nations introduce tax and other incentives to encourage its use. However, the major factors inhibiting a more rapid growth of this market include insufficient fueling stations, the high cost for developing CNG based infrastructure, high operational costs, and the high cost of conversion from petrol to natural gas.

A home builder in the US state of California is making homes that have CNG hookups in the garage hybridCARS reports that KB Home has unveiled its first ZeroHouse 2.0 in the city of Lancaster which comes ready with a charging station for electric vehicles and a CNG hoockup in the garage.

IndianCarsBikes looks at the advantages and disadvantages of CNG in India.

Italy has reached 1000 NGV refueling stations according to NGV Global News. With more than 750,000 natural gas vehicles, Italy is the dominant NGV nation in Europe and the seventh largest by vehicle numbers worldwide.

United Parcel Service expects to have its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling station in the US city of Jacksonville, Florida by late this summer says The station, which will be used exclusively by UPS trucks, is one of 13 such stations the package delivery company is building around the US. The stations are for the companies long distance large trailer-trucks, not the local delivery trucks. By the end of the year, the company forecasts over 1,000 of UPS’ 16,000 trailer-trucks will be operating on LNG.

Meanwhile in nearby Orlando, Florida, potato chip manufacturer Frito Lay has announced it will be using will refuel its fleet of heavy duty trucks at a new CNG station.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) has its first CNG heavy-duty buses in the US city. In January 2013, the agency approved a $308 million contract for the supply of 550 new CNG-powered buses, to be added to the group’s already extensive CNG fleet. Next-Gen Transportation News notes that in addition to the 550 buses, LA Metro has an option to acquire an additional 350 CNG buses.

NGV Global News tells us Pure, India’s 8th largest city, has ordered 550 CNG buses from Tata Motors.

The same source tells us CNG powered snow plows are now operating in the US state of Wisconsin. With CNG selling for $1.50 per gallon compared with %4 per gallon, the snow plow saves about $6000 per year in annual fuel costs.



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