Natural gas is much better suited for pickups and other large vehicles than electrification.

July 26, 2016 3:31 p.m. ET

Regulators Defend Fuel Standards” (U.S. News, July 19) notes the growing tension between consumer desires for larger, less fuel-efficient light trucks and ambitious automotive emissions and efficiency targets set by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is a proven but unfortunately overlooked solution to this problem: fueling light trucks with natural gas. Natural gas is much better suited for pickups and other large vehicles than electrification and conventional natural gas can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20%. Even better, greenhouse-gas emissions can be reduced by 90% or more with renewable natural gas captured from landfills or dairy farms, which is already providing over half of natural gas-vehicle fueling in California today.

These emissions benefits are easily on par with electric vehicles but regulators and legislators alike have failed to provide the same level of support. In particular, natural-gas vehicles ought to be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit that is currently available only to electric vehicles, as well as the considerable regulatory incentives for EVs provided by the EPA and California Air Resources Board. European countries such as Germany and Italy have proved that natural gas can become a low-cost, widely used alternative fuel with the right policies. With similar government support in the U.S., natural gas could allow auto makers to provide low-emission alternatives for the larger vehicles that consumers are gravitating toward.

Harvey Lamm

Blue Bell, Pa.

Mr. Lamm is a co-founder of VNG Co., a company providing compressed natural-gas fueling for light-duty vehicles.

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Major Oil producers wouldn't be eager to allow that to happen....

It's not up to major oil producers.  It is up to the vehicle manufacturers who must meet future fleet MPG and emission standards.  And of course to consumers who wish to continue to drive pickups and truck chassis-based SUVs.  I have a boat to tow and would certainly consider replacing my pickup with a CNG model in the future. 

There is a rarely discussed fact that could have a huge impact on consumer acceptance of CNG fueled vehicles - the physical constraints of the storage tank.  As long as a cylinder design is required to meet pressure standards - only pickup and SUV owners who are willing to give up some of their cargo room will be potential buyers in quantity.  If the storage configuration changes and there is no need to give up that cargo area - consumers will likely favor CNG over gasoline power for lower cost of operation and lower emissions.  When the storage hurdle is cleared the public demand for CNG fueling options will sky rocket as will CNG fueled vehicles of all types.  

And those Major Oil producers, most also are natural gas producers.  And some like Shell in the current Main Page discussion are investing in greater natural gas reserves because they forecast a better long range profitability based on long term global demand for natural gas/CNG/LNG.

They would have to work together....
No one would buy a CNG vehicle without reliable access to the fuel. I'm sure there would be a good market for such vehicles if they were comparably priced and fuel was widely available. 
I wonder what the impact on oil prices would be if say if 20-30% of the vehicles in the US were CNG vehicles? What impact would there be on NG prices?

Ah, the chicken or the egg conundrum.  Where I would use a pickup there is already existing CNG fueling options.  So where you live and how you regularly drive are determining factors.  Here is a link to a CNG fueling station map.

As stated previously, fleet vehicles that leave from and return to a central location each day are well suited to CNG.  And long haul trucks will use LNG instead of CNG.  Those trucks will have long range ability and those that travel the interstate highway system will only need a limited number of strategically located fueling stations.  It's hard to say what the impact on demand for and price of NG would be.  Vehicle use will be part of the incremental increase in demand over the coming decades.

Also keep in mind that although I would certainly consider a CNG pickup, I would likely be driving an EV for my everyday transportation.  For light duty vehicles, electric power would be better suited.  And of course the electrical power generators will have to burn more NG to charge that vehicle.

I might buy one of these once it is mass produced.

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No need, because we are converting natural gas to gasoline, cheaper, than converting crude is in the making...and cheaper, than a conversion car and cleaner than oil based fuel.

Syngas is certainly a possibility in the future. However electric light duty cars will out perform all combustion vehicle engines, regardless of the specific fuel, and do so for less operating cost to the consumer, IMO.

I want my motor vehicle to be CNG powered ASAP whether it is a new CNG ready vehicle or a conversion. Cost is no object. I simply want to show my "NG patriotism" lol.

Thanks, Jeff.  I read yesterday where Tesla is also working on a heavy duty commercial truck design.  I think that an EV heavy hauler for local delivery is in the not too distant future.  It will be long haul trucks that will be better suited to LNG.

Makes sense to me.


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