U.S. CNG conversions still going nowhere fast.
So the price of gas goes up and everyone wants to jump on the CNG Bandwagon, the investors, the dreamers, the educators, the regulators, the politicians, the everyday driver and the list goes on and on, the only problem is that there is one big CNG road block, no CNG conversions available at a decent price for the common man also no one has any money (after a few years of Obamanamics) and the rules and regulations bogeymen is still around. Yes there are New vehicles with EPA Certs for $40K that will give you a few government handouts for the purchase of them and there are a few older OEM CNG Vehicles still on the road but there still isn’t a conversion system that is readily available for the daily driver, why is that? I will tell you why, the average driver in the United State drives a vehicle that is so over-regulated with strict standards and Emission testing that if they are faced with something as revolutionary as converting to natural gas and their check engine light comes on they go screaming to the closest governmental agency or dealership for protection. Another problem is jealously and infighting in the CNG community, in 2007 and 2008 as the price of gas rose to above $4.00 1000’s of vehicle owners in Utah converted their vehicles to natural gas. There were certain EPA certified converters that just didn’t like the competition the non-EPA converters were givng them, so they went crying to the Utah Highway Patrol and got them to outlaw any Natural Gas Vehicle conversions that did not have an EPA Certified systems they did so using their state mandated safety inspections. This rule change was short lived (the UHP was taken to court and lost) but it did show how some individuals in the CNG community have a propensity to run to government agencies and try to punish behavior they don’t like or agree with.
Anywhere else in the world the CNG mechanic and consumer would have a choice of CNG systems and Factory CNG Vehicles, in the United States we have little choice, CNG converters that install non-EPA certified systems must buy their components and systems from outside the U.S. (U.S. CNG suppliers will not sell to non-EPA aftermarket converters for fear of the EPA and its regulations) A modern non-EPA sequential CNG system is virtually identical to a certified system, the major difference is the tuning and testing.
A word about EPA Certified systems, they are only available for new Ford and Chevy trucks and a handful of new Ford and Chevy cars. What determines whether or not a company is willing to develop a EPA-certified system for a particular new vehicle is its marketability to Fleets, since the expense to certify will need to be balanced by the government handouts and rebates the vehicle owners receive. This EPA only legal model leaves out most of the vehicles in the U.S. Aftermarket non-EPA systems on the other hand are less expensive, adaptable to most any vehicle and subsequently without the extra expense of tuning, testing etc. are more affordable to the customer. The bureaucrats, politicians and other CNG enthusiasts that promote EPA-certified CNG systems need to understand that their approach no matter how well intentioned would only convert less than 1% of the nations vehicles even if everyone that drives a new Ford and Chevy truck could afford the conversion and actually did convert.
Regardless of what bureaucrats, politicians or CNG pundits try to feed us the American public just want to convert what they are driving as inexpensively as possible. The high cost of gas and the lagging economy has made it abundantly apparent that the EPA-certified model for CNG conversions will not work for the general public.
I really don’t want to see another new CNG website touting all of the advantages of Natural Gas conversions only to add, oh by the way non-EPA certified conversions are illegal and unless you have $30 to $40 K for a new car or truck or you want to drive a Honda GX (which will only go about 200 mile on CNG only) or you want to drive a 10 to 15 year old truck or a Caviler or Contour or old Ford cop cars you are out of luck.
lets face the cold hard facts that the top down, regulate first then wait for the Government to provide the funding just does not work, the interest and growth has to come from the industry and vehicles owners in other words the bottom up, they need an affordable viable option. Let’s push the old top down may I please have another handout model aside and start a bottom up do it on our own dime with safe inexpensive systems that everyone can afford.