Are natural gas vehicles the solution to many problems, such as high fuel costs and environmental damage? Some believe that Orange County would be a cleaner place if all of vehicles on the road were powered by this fuel source while others argue that natural gas has no business on American roads. So, who is right?
What is a Natural Gas Vehicle?
Most people have heard of natural gas vehicles, but a large percentage is not really familiar with too many details. So, if you are scratching your head and feeling a little behind the times, you are not alone. Although not a new concept, natural gas is just starting to become the topic of conversation, so most are still a little confused.
A natural gas vehicle uses compressed natural gas rather than traditional gasoline. Compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas is significantly cleaner. Although they are not all that popular yet in America there are well over 15 million electric vehicles on the roads worldwide, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil and India.
Some assume that they would have to find a natural gas fueling station, but this is actually not true. You do not have to drive all around Southern California in search of a fueling station, because fueling can be done right at home. Phil Home Refueling Appliance is a fueling station that most people in American are familiar with.
So, you are probably trying to decide if this is a vehicle you should even consider, right? Well, there are both pros and cons to owning a natural gas vehicle, so make sure you are familiar with the positive and negative points, so you can make an educated decision.
- Cheaper – With the rising cost of gasoline, it is hard not to wonder if alternative methods are the way to go. After all, every time there is a negative global event or natural disaster, gas prices seem to skyrocket, and there looks to be no relief in sight. Natural gas costs about $1.50 to $2.00 less than regular gasoline per gallon. That is a huge savings!
- Low Maintenance – You will not need to run to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles with a natural gas vehicle. Maintenance costs on these vehicles are surprisingly low.
- Availability – Some people think natural gas is a renewable resource, but it’s not. However, there are mass amounts of natural gas deposits. So much so that it is highly unlikely the supply would be depleted in your lifetime, or the lifetime of your grandchildren.
- Tax Incentives – Just like with hybrids and electric vehicles, the United States Federal Government offers tax credits to individuals who buy a natural gas vehicle.
- Minimal Pollution – One of the reasons the environment is in a diminishing condition is due to pollution created from passenger vehicles. If you think about how many cars are on the road at any given time, it is no wonder the ozone layer is depleting and there is an increasing number of natural disasters. Greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas vehicles are significantly less than what is offered by gasoline vehicles.
- HOV Lane – Certain cities have created carpool lanes to encourage and reward people who carpool. The idea is to offer them a “fast” lane to bypass other traffic. In most states, natural gas vehicles qualify for an HOV sticker.
- Gas Mileage – While traditional gas-powered vehicles typically average 32 mpg, a natural gas vehicle is up around 43 mpg.
- Initial Cost – Just like hybrids and electric vehicles, a natural gas vehicle will run you more in the purchase price, which will dictate a higher monthly payment, if you happen to be financing.
- Cost of Fueling Station – Although the cost of a home fueling station will eventually pay for itself, it is expensive to have one of these stations installed. The station itself could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, plus the cost of installation.
- Non-renewable Fuel Source – Although natural gas is readily available, and it is highly unlikely that supplies will diminish any time in the near future, the fact of the matter is, it is non-renewable. It is estimated by the United States Energy Information Administration that there is enough natural gas to last about 90 years. Then what? What happens to all of these vehicles? Do they turn to waste?
- Few Fueling Stations – Unless you can afford to have a fueling station installed, you may have a hard time finding fueling stations. Of the estimated 1,000 stations in the United States, only about half are available for public use. This means that taking that spontaneous road trip will not be a good idea.
- Safety – Although most will argue that these vehicles are perfectly safe, others will say that there is always going to be risk involved with having a pressurized fuel station inside your vehicle. Not to mention, this tank really puts a damper on trunk space.