Natural gas vehicles are a cleaner and efficient alternative to gasoline and diesel vehicles. Currently they are used in industrial urban fleet applications such as light, medium and heavy-duty delivery trucks, taxis, courier services, shuttles, buses, refuse haulers, large class 8 freight and drayage trucks. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach offer incentives for fleet owners to replace older trucks with newer, cleaner trucks.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas is a commercially available CNG-powered passenger car available in the U.S. and gets a competitive 31 miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline. Light duty bi-fuel CNG pickup trucks such as the RAM 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, GMC Sierra 2500HD, and the Westport WiNG (Westport Innovations converted Ford F-250 and F-350 series) are available from authorized dealers with OEM warranty coverage. Dedicated CNG full-size vans such as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana have been available since 2011. There are also numerous aftermarket engine conversion kits which are certified by the California Air Resources Board and available for a wide range of vehicle platforms and classes. industry Most conversion kits allow for bi-fueling or even tri-fueling (CNG/gasoline/E85) capability and payback periods can be less than 2 years, depending on annual miles traveled. Finally, medium and heavy duty engine manufacturers such as Westport Innovations, Cummins Westport, Volvo, and Navistar have received Energy Commission funds to develop new natural gas engines which are being integrated into a number of heavier duty vehicle chassis such as Peterbilt and Kenworth.

While conventional natural gas is not considered a renewable fuel, biomethane or renewable natural gas can be produced from organic material found in dairies, landfills, and wastewater treatment facilities, leading to GHG emission reductions of up to 85% compared to conventional natural gas. Additional benefits of NGVs include the following:

– There is a bountiful supply of domestic natural gas in North America accessible to California.
– Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.
– There are currently about 139 natural gas fueling stations in California, although consumers can purchase a “slow fill” system for at-home, overnight fueling.
– NGVs contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas and criteria pollutants: 30% less carbon dioxide and on average 50% less NOx emissions than equivalent diesel vehicles.
– The retail prices of CNG and LNG fuel are discounted relative to the price gasoline and diesel, respectively.
– The potential is good to significantly reduce dependence upon petroleum, leading to potential reduction in the annual trade deficit.

NGV Challenges

– There is still a significant differential cost for natural gas vehicles.
– On-board fuel tanks in vehicles may take up valuable storage space.
– There are concerns about groundwater contamination, public health risks, and the improper treatment of the fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process of extracting natural gas from shale deposits.