Natural gas from shale has certainly changed things. At a fraction of the cost of gasoline, everyone’s talking about the viability of natural gas. Point of fact, it may be the first major shift in transportation in 50 years – since we replaced diesel with gasoline for cars. Alas, its use has been seemingly limited to 0.1 per cent of vehicles, including city buses, garbage trucks and delivery vans.
Access and initial cost are the big obstacles to most people. But what if you could pay an energy equivalent cost of 33 cents a litre, instead of $1.30? What if your car’s emissions could be virtually cut in half?
And what if you could refuel at home?
There are virtually no natural gas vehicles sold directly from the manufacturer to the consumer market – with the exceptions of the Honda Civic GX, and next year, Ford’s F-150 pickup. But gas engines can be converted to compressed natural gas.
Since most people drive under 60 km per day anyway, bi-fuel vehicles, a strong argument can be made for bi-fuel vehicles. A dual tank system will let drivers employ clean, affordable and reliable natural gas as a primary fuel, while still having a tank of regular gasoline in reserve. Most of the time, you’ll be able to drive around town and make it home on natural gas. Then, you can simply refuel your natural gas overnight, right from the tap at the energy equivalent of 33 cents a litre).
However, considering the somewhat high costs of conversion for both vehicles and homes, the biggest benefactors of such technology, at least in the meantime, will be fleet owners. As the technology becomes more popular (and thus, more economical) and as gasoline prices skyrocket, the barriers to natural gas will come down.
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