Doing CNG in America 2011, the battle between CNG, Hybrids and Electrics
As the price of gasoline continues to climb the only silver lining is that CNG conversions will pick up again as our pocketbooks get pinched every time we fill up with gasoline.
Over the past 3 years here in Utah most of the CNG suppliers and installers have gone on to greener pastures.
The controversy over rules and regulations surrounding CNG conversions and the EPA are virtually non-existent. As everyone’s savings shrink, the government continues to takeover every aspect of our lives using rules, regulations and bureaucracies.
The energy and entrepreneurial spirit that was originally in the CNG industry (at least in Utah) a few years ago has been replaced by dreams and fairy-tales of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Although many new EPA certified systems have been developed for midsized trucks and a few cars there has been no significant growth in the CNG aftermarket conversion market.
When I buy a car I just drive it and write off the expenses.
On the other hand most people I talk to about converting their gasoline vehicle to a bi-fuel gasoline/CNG vehicle want to know how long it will take to recoup the install costs of their CNG system. If you drive, are able to save money and enjoy it.
A bi-fuel gasoline/CNG vehicle with an 8 GGE CNG tank and 15 gal gasoline tank at 30mpg will go 690 miles. Compare this to a electric car that goes 40 to 100 miles (depending on how you drive) on a charge or a Chevy Volt which goes 30 miles all electric or 350 hybrid.
All of these all electric, hybrid electric, hybrid, turbo diesel all need to be amortized to cover the additional costs.
Lets do some comparisons between an all electric, gasoline/CNG and a hybrid, I have not included all factors but I hope you can see some of the advantages and disadvantages:
2011 Toyota Prius
Car cost $28,000
- Estimated mileage 40 mpg
- At a gasoline cost of $3.00/gal the cost per mile is $.07
- At a gasoline cost of $4.50/gal the cost per mile is $.12
- With gas tank capacity of 10 gallons the range is 400 miles
- A $28,000 5 year loan at 5% = $528.00 per month payments
- If you drive 800 miles per month your gasoline cost is $96 ($3.00 gas price)
- Your total gas and car paments per month will be $624.00
2011 Nissan Leaf (city car)
- Car cost $34,000
- Battery lease $.06 per mile
- Charge cost $.04 per mile
- Total cost per mile $.10
- Mileage per charge is 60 miles (highway speeds) or 130 miles (turtle speeds)
- A $34,000 5 year car loan at 5% = $642.00 per month payments
- If you drive 800 miles per month your charge and battery rental cost is $80.00
- Your total charge, battery rental and car payment per month is $722.00
- (Some dispute the 0 emissions claim since emissions are usually emitted to produce the electricity.)
95 Honda Accord Bi-fuel
- Car cost $3000
- CNG conversion cost $6000
- Fuel mileage 35 mpg
- At gasoline cost of $3.00/gal the cost per mile is $.08
- If the cost of CNG is $1.25/GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent) (Utah) the cost per mile on CNG is $.03
- At a gasoline cost of $4.50/gal the cost per mile on gasoline is $.13
- With a gas tank capacity of 12 gallons and a CNG tank capacity of 8 GGE the Accord has a range of 700 miles
- A $3000 car loan and a $6000 conversion loan for 5 years at 5% = $170.00 a month payment
- Driving 800 miles per month at $.08 per mile fuel will cost $64.00 on Gasoline
- Driving 800 miles per month at $.03 per mile fuel will cost $24.00 on CNG
- There is a total gas and car payment per month on gasoline of $234.00 or a total gas and car payment per month on CNG of $194.00
I don’t know how much prestige is worth but is it worth $500 a month more to have an electric or hybrid vehicle? On top of the $500 you also have to drive an ugly car.
In the end everyone has a choice, some choose not to drive, some choose to drive clunkers, some choose electric cars and hybrids, but most people just drive normal cars.
Over the past few years many motorists have chosen vehicles with better fuel economy due to the high and unsure cost of gasoline.
Many vehicle owners here in Utah and in other states that have CNG refueling facilities at a low price were able to convert and save on fuel. There were also a few CNG vehicle owners that installed home filling compressors and have benefited also.
CNG is not for everyone but those who choose to go that route will benefit from the savings.
No matter what the looky-loos and pundits say about alternative fuel vehicles, in areas that have natural gas, CNG is the answer to me.
It may not be the green “flavor of the month” but I was never one for fashion. Just give me function over fashion any day.