Already promoting diesels, hybrids and electric vehicles (EV), Volkswagen (VW) is reportedly considering a natural gas vehicle (NGV) model in the United States, drawn by abundant U.S. natural gas supplies. Fueling infrastructure remains a concern of the German automaker, however.
VW has been selling NGVs in Europe for 10 years, fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG), which is far more common for passenger cars there than in the United States. The CNG model reportedly accounts for about 10% of the automaker’s city sales in Europe.
VW affiliate Audi introduced CNG versions of A3 and A3 g-tron models at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, and it has produced its own “e-gas” fuel for the latter model. Honda currently sells the only CNG passenger car in the United States, although Fiat SpA in recent years has talked about selling passenger NGVs in North America (see Daily GPI, Dec. 6, 2010).
As it has encountered with plug-in EVs and hydrogen fuel cell cars, VW wants to see more fueling stations for NGVs, according to a report in theDetroit News. Unlike the EVs, natural gas vehicles don’t have a readily available home-fueling option at this point, but VW still seems determined to offer a CNG model in the United States.
According to the News report, VW will not go to a dual-fuel version of NGVs, but most likely will convert an existing production model to run on CNG. It intends to offer plug-in EVs, hybrids and the CNG options on this side of the Pond next year.
Meanwhile, in the heavy duty truck space, CNG continues to gain momentum, with Waco, TX-based Central Freight Lines adding 100 CNG M2 112 trucks to its fleet of more than 1,600 vehicles, manufacturer Freightliner reported earlier this month.
Central indicated that it will support the CNG trucks with fueling stations being developed with partners in Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston. The stations in Fort Worth and San Antonio are being developed by the Evo Trillium joint venture. Trucks in Houston will fuel at a Questar-ANGI facility.
“In 2012, we purchased CNG tractors that have been servicing the Houston area with proven efficiencies,” Central CEO Don Orr said. “As a result, we decided to continue investing in CNG tractors, specifically Freightliner trucks, because of their reliability and the company’s customer support.”
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