An article in the Wall Street Journal this week takes an in-depth look at what it would take to replace our nation’s traditional gasoline vehicles with natural gas vehicles, and the obstacles keeping this from becoming a reality. It is vital to lessen our dependence on gasoline with domestic alternative fuel options to solve the ongoing fuel crisis and enhance our national energy security. However, natural gas is certainly not the only answer—especially when fleets like the City of Edmond, Okla., are finding out the hard way that switching to compressed natural gas (CNG) is not always the best choice.
Here’s a snippet of the story from the Oklahoman:
The city’s plan to convert Edmond’s public transportation buses to compressed natural gas has been halted.
Shannon Entz, community development manager, said there is limited access to compressed natural gas in Edmond, and the single CNG pump station breaks down at times.
Other problems with the mechanical systems also led to the decision to convert the other buses to run on both liquefied propane gas and unleaded fuel.
“This option offers less expensive conversion costs, comparable fuel cost, less mechanical problems, as well as dual-fueling capabilities which allows us to purchase unleaded fuel, as necessary,” Entz said.
The City of Edmonton is one example of fleets across the U.S. that are electing to make the switch to autogas versus CNG because it’s more affordable, dependable and widely available, now.
The Alliance AutoGas website offers a pretty comprehensive run-down comparing the merits of autogas technology to CNG for fleets. For example, CNG fueling stations are 15 times more expensive than autogas fueling stations, and you can convert two light-duty vehicles to autogas for the price of just one light-duty CNG vehicle. Autogas vehicles also get better range because—as the WSJ article even notes—compressed natural gas must be stored under such high pressure that the fuel tanks are larger, heavier and take up much more trunk space the vehicles than autogas tanks.
However, the WSJ article does make one very important point overall: to spur adoption of domestic clean fuels in the U.S., more Americans need to be educated that fuels like propane autogas and natural gas are viable alternative fuel options in the first place. Many U.S. drivers think of ethanol, electric vehicles and hybrids when it comes to alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, but they don’t realize the same fuel they’ve relied on to heat their homes and fire up their grills is also an environmentally friendly, cost-effective vehicle fuel. Autogas already runs 18 million vehicles worldwide, and the more American drivers discover the many advantages, the more autogas will take hold with U.S. fleets.
Follow @AllianceAutoGas, where we’re busy spreading the word about clean, affordable autogas for fleets.