4 votes

What's Stopping Mass Adoption of Natural Gas Vehicles?

Join Motley Fool analyst Brendan Byrnes for a conversation with Ian Scott, the executive vice president of Westport Innovations' On-Road Systems segment, which works with OEM partners such as Ford, Volvo, Kenworth, and Peterbilt to produce natural gas-0powered vehicles in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In the following video, Scott describes the progress being made in natural gas infrastructure among companies such as Clean Energy Fuels and Royal Dutch Shell, with as many as 560 stations projected to be in place by the end of 2015.



Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

maybe you have heard

Walmart, Coke, and a few other like size companies are changing over their entire fleet of trucks to LNG. Coming soon.

LNG will be called Eagle Diesel at gas stations BTW

LNG=Liquid Natural Gas

1/2 the cabs in Chicago run alternative fuels.

Chicago cab drivers say CNG cabs more expensive to operate than hybrids. http://www.wbez.org/shift-policy-undermines-chicago%E2%80%99...

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

What's stopping nat gas cars? Initial cost.

Home cng compressors are $3000 - $7000 installed and each vehicle conversion is $1500 - $2500 installed.

If I was a billionaire, I would buy up an oil change franchise chain and do CNG auto conversions. The tech would follow the customer home to install the CNG compressor.

A decent rate of return on investment would require the customer to be a daily commuter or a soccer mom and gasoline prices would have to stay high.

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

Natural Gas Prices.........

You can see NG prices on this map. I looked at San Fran & Oklahoma. Prices very widely from location to location. from $1.xx to $2.xx per gal.

This is one of my biggest points concerning the use of NG in vehicles >>>IT's LESS than HALF THE PRICE<<< of petrol.

Second to this, THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO BE PREPAIRED to operate on a secondary or emergency fuel, because if a war should break out, fuel refineries are one of the first targets.

Third, in most major cities the infrastructure is already in place, proven and up and running, ready to go. At this time more stations would still need to be developed in rual areas though.

I am NOT pushing BIG corporate gas here. As seen in other videos I've posted concerning NG it can be man made out of organic waste products at very low prices. This can be done by nearly anyone really interested with a little money in start-ups, investor, development or hands-on. When everyone gets involved it diversifies things cutting into the pie of big oil.

price map:

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

here is the rub ...

What do you think the price of NG is going to do when the damand doubles or triples or goes up ten fold?

Also, there is an immediate 20 - 30 % highway tax on NG if used in cars.

Then you have the indirect expense of paying extra to heat your home.

All in all, it's a wash.

Then you have to figure the infrastructure build out.

The margins are not there yet.

Close, but not quite.

Then you have the PR needed when the first tank blows up like a bomb when in an accident.

More PR when fracking increases.

This is not a no brainer.

Having said that, I like the fact that NG is a domestic product.

God Bless.


From some videos I've gleened here:


People that have converted to NG are saying they go from 150 to 200 miles on $7 worth of CNG. I guess that's for the filling of one tank.

At what time they've purchased the NG and the price pcf and tank sizes is left vague.

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

Natural Gas Vapor lock in hot states

Natural Gas Buses and car in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana all have similar problems of vapor lock when the temperatures get to high.

That is why there hasn't been a conversion to NG/LP as of yet

Vapor lock?

I am familiar with vapor lock in both boiler and chiller systems...
but with CNG? do you mean that the pressure gets too high for the regulators to handle?

my understanding was that cylinder overheating was the biggest problem. burning a vapor directly is very different from atomizing a liquid.

CNG also has a power to weight disadvantage.

Natural gas is not the answer

So many better alternatives.

Please name one.....

Without going into detail, "what is your favorite subsitute?"

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

SteveMT's picture

The government is stopping the use of natural gas.

The petrodollar will be defended until the bitter end by this government.


As of now they want to consolidate all things to be electric and SMART.

But they are still not ready to totally switch the "entire" auto industry over.....

Not until they have they're hand deep within that pie.....

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

SMART Cars......

Also, the SMART cars are to be guided by GPS-gird-cordinance. Only thing iz, WAIT FOR IT.............

You'll need to be a special VIP with special premission and $$$ -to go MANUALLY off the grid-.

AND THIS is "FOR THE LUCKY PEOPLE" that won't only be RESTRICTED exclusively to train travel.

As usual, theres more to the movie "Demolition Man" than meets the EYE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS, as of right now, I don't think they can pull it off.


Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

In Australia, my father had

In Australia, my father had his regular petrol car equipped to run dual petrol/LPG gas. They sell LPG at most service stations in Australia right along with petrol and diesel. I have no idea why this hasn't caught on here in the states.

Let's just not prop up yet another bubble fossil fuel industry

Shall we?

Years ago, there was incentive to use natural gas. It was clean and we had many engine conversions. We even had more options for home fueling. I personally installed quite a few conversions on farm trucks in the midwest when I was a much younger man and a couple that I remember even had the home compressors to fill them.

Today, however, the games much different. The current NG boom is from fracking which is devastating large parts of PA, TX and about half a dozen other states. Entire towns are walking away from their homes because of all the various contaminants they're being hit with. It's really not good.

Energywise, fracking deep horizontal wells is not near as efficient as it used to be when we just poked a big straw in the ground. When fracking first appeared, it was an energy loser. This means that it took more energy to get the gas through the entire economic chain than it yielded by using it. Most estimates now say that it 'has doubled' in energy return. This means that at BEST, it no contains double the energy it took. The concept is called EROEI for Energy Return On Energy Invested. When it dips below 1:1, there's no point. When it dips below 1.5:1, it's uneconomical - see ethanol. When it's around 2-3, it's worth it but prices skyrocket.

I don't think it's now even above 2:1 because of the economics surrounding well investments. A typical fracking well costs $6-7M, compared to $1M for conventional ones. While conventional wells production drops off slowly after 2-10 years, fracking wells begin dropping off dramatically immediately and ultimately last for time frames of weeks to months. Compare those economics to traditional wells and you see well investments are a losing game.

What's the evidence of this? Well, it just so happens that the well investment industry has become a complete ponzi scheme where future investors bolster the profits of past losers. It hasn't crashed completely yet because of subsidies and intermingling with traditional wells but it absolutely will. And it will soon.

When that happens, millions of investors (and yes, even mutual funds and muni bonds) will crash and crash hard. In short, it's simply another extension of the Fed's monetary ponzi scheme but more hidden than the mortgage game.

The short answer is fossil fuels and nuclear are all going away with great fanfare very soon. Plan accordingly.

see this site...


Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

scawarren's picture

Where did you get this

Where did you get this information from because, honestly, it sounds like you just made it up? My husband has a friend, Brad, who does this well work. He not only fracks the well, he also drills it and puts it on line for less than $50 thousand per well. I would also like to know where you see "entire towns are walking away from their homes because of all the various contaminants they're being hit with"?

It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. – Mark Twain
Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it's wrong. - Ron Paul

With all due respect, "Brad' is in a way different league

than the wells I'm referring to. $50k wouldn't even get the crews to the site for most of the big wells. $50k wouldn't even get the investors to answer the phone either. It's too small of a play. Hell, some wells I've heard talk of have spent more than that on just drill bits.

Where do I get my info? It's mostly water cooler talk from those in the circles I run in. Not being personally involved in any of these automotive technologies because I'm strictly solar thermal at this point, I don't go looking for the info. It just finds me. However, I've also consulted a larger group that decides which of them to chase down and let me tell you... It would blow your mind to be a fly on that wall. :)

For other published info on the problems of fracking, I would refer you watch to the Gasland I and II and Gashole movies with an unbiased POV. Big energy of all types, has corrupted every corner of our world and the sooner you can see it, the sooner we can all get things turned around.

scawarren's picture

Brad is a true entrepreneur,

Brad is a true entrepreneur, no cronyism going on in his business. Do you understand what that means? I'm not for sure you actually understand how this works in the field because Linn Energy, Cimarex, Jones, Apache, to name a few, aren't exactly small fish.
As far as those Gas Land movies I have watched them and I've seen Jamie Fox been proven a liar. May I suggest you watch a documentary called "FrackNation".
Our government needs to stay the hell away from all energy companies; no subsidies for oil, gas, or anything "green". Get the government out and let the market decide.

p.s. My home is a good 150 miles from any area that has ever been "fracked" but I can light my water on fire too :/

It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. – Mark Twain
Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it's wrong. - Ron Paul

I'm not quite sure what you're arguing here

I didn't label Brad or other similar sized companies as all bad. I said that the market is overall going in a bad direction and if we increase our reliance on it, those things will get worse.

The "what" things include both the environmental and the economic issues, both of which are not good for us down the road. I don't think anyone can deny that those things (both paths) are getting worse and worse. Or do you have evidence to the contrary, because when I see really big investors getting cold feet even as they are still making money, I look at their concerns as having more validity.

The other issues I referred you to watch the videos on was to learn what towns are being devastated. I didn't suggest (at least I wasn't trying to) that you should use those videos as an all-telling documentary on everything. I never trust any single source on anything because I'm convinced that both sides in every argument will exaggerate their POV. That's just not good science, imo.

Hand in hand

with the acceleration of fracking is the use of government regulations and laws to restrict the property rights of individuals affected by the aftermath of fracking. These people are walking away from their homes because their legal recourse is circumscribed by the collusion between government and industry on both the state and federal level.

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” —Thomas Jefferson

So what's your answer to getting away from fossills tam......

I like your input on this stuff. From what I gathered from the Abandon Ship thread it looks like you support *hemp biomass as number one, right?

*When I was addressing biomass/methane I was referring to all types, esp hemp. & possible algee concepts as most probabal (yet to be determined).

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

look up algae at...

www.biodiesel.infopop.cc and you will find three transcriptions of algae seminars.

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

There isn't ONE, there's quite a few

and they all apply to different groups of people in different geographical areas.

My all-time favorite, first choice is www.skytran.net . It simply replaces much of the unnecessary commuting and local / regional distribution with a cross between mag-lev and a roller coaster. Very cheap, quick, safe and easy to integrate all the way down to the neighborhood level. In my discussions, about 2% of people wouldn't jump at the chance to swap their tedious commute for a silent, 45-200 mph roller coaster ride straight to their company's lobby!

My second favorite for personal car solutions is www.switch2hydrogen.com where hydrides in a non-pressurized tank hold highly condensed (not compressed) H2. Unfortunately, some of the materials are in an international dispute with China and the NRC. Should it become available, however, it can be applied to every car on the road.

Of note should be the fact that H2 would, by itself, be an energy loser but when coupled with solar PV or wind, the energy balance beats everything except a full battery powered car. (People who complain that H2 production is only 65-70% efficient forget that gas and all commercial grid power is less than 40%. In fact, coal power is 8-11% efficient over then entire process.)

After H2, I like niche battery cars. I think their utility lies in the last mile issues they solve. With battery swaps (coming to Tesla charging stations soon), there won't be a large replacement cost and with new sulfur based batteries, they're much more sustainable.

The good ol'e gas engine is currently getting a few makeovers. Most of these are progressing separately, but when they get combined, they make quite a change. Things like direct injection, extremely lean burn plasma ignition, dual cranks for low friction and variable valve timing are all point towards a 4-door sedan getting over 100 mpg soon. Personally, I think this will apply more to light duty pickup trucks more than cars.

Bio-diesel from algae and hemp can both become quite a game changer but both have a huge uphill political battle ahead of them right now. Hopefully, Tennessee legalizing it (I think???) will start that and some of the lab algae processes will go commercial. I know of one private (under the radar) effort which tripled yield by accepting algae specie of all types. Their end product is carbon neutral, standard grade gasoline And they are even considering how that process applies to other bio-mass type refining.

After all these, then I would support small localized natural gas use. It works well but when it comes from the recent fracking/shale gas, it's a serious problem. Unfortunately, it does nothing to promote leaving oil because of all the entrenched interests in making the parasitic engine sub-assemblies.

I think we also need to put an end to some laws that are stopping us from being so dependent on oil. Since oil is the ultimate baseline for cars, all the others cower to it. For example, Segways are banned in lots of places. NEV (neighborhood electric vehicles) cost more in places to license than to buy. Interstate highways separate main sections of some cities, stopping biking, walking and even golf carts. Military exercises and the actual conflicts are another huge waste, imho. Telecommuting still has this big media stigma and isn't taking off like it could. And lastly, rail has a strangle-hold on national politics of getting things like ET3.com, Hyperloop and Skytran and even High Speed Rail off the starting blocks.

Those last three are something I'd like to see promoted. Not that they're perfect by themselves, but if we combined them into a single system, we could satisfy about 70% of GLOBAL vehicle use (all types) for the cost of 4-5 years of buying oil. ...but that's another thread. :-)

All in all, I remember a study a few years ago that said that keeping the same number of jobs, we could eliminate 55% of the need for oil by just changing many of these laws and supporting the shovel-ready technologies. However, when you consider the telecommuting option and the jobs supporting fossil fuels, this could drop even further. And when you get oil's price way down because of low demand, it's no longer a war/money/political problem and that reduces it's influence in the other fuel choices. Other studies have concluded that just dropping oil's demand by 8% (at a rate faster than production dropped), it's financial hold over the world would quickly die off.

Yes, Return on investment attracts investors.

Natural Gas 75mgAu/million BTU

Retail gasoline 75mgAu/100,000 BTU

Crude oil

Free includes debt-free!

Just to clarify for the

Just to clarify for the readers, let's put all that in similar units. Let's convert them to gallons of gas equivalent in a conventional car. I'll take some liberties but overall, my assumptions are fairly close.

NG @ 75 mg/mmbtu (million btu) equals about 8 gallons of gas but it gets much less mileage. The generally accepted cost comes to half that of gasoline (1.5mg/mile) but I suspect the NG price is hiked by conflating the numbers. At 80% of gasoline's specific power output, this 'should mean' it would cost 0.47mg/mile but that's not what we're seeing.

Gasoline @ 75mg/100,000 btu is a little misleading since they actually quote per gallon. Gas usually has around 125,000 btus and gets 25mpg (generous). That's a cost of 3mg/mile.

Crude oil is a bit tougher. If used as #2 diesel, a barrel could yield 40 gallons x 138,000 btu for each 2,500 mg/bbl. That means that the 75mg from above would buy you 165,600 btus and you would pay about 2.1mg/mile.

Clearly, if NG is not manipulated (as in home compressor refuling systems), it is the best choice, costwise. But there are other issues involved.

When investors get wind that they are not making money on the newest shale fracking wells, they will bounce. When that happens, NG will spike pretty high. If we're more dependent on it, as in our transportation now relies on it too, that will hit our economy very hard.

The "ROI" I'm most worried about isn't the "return on ($$) investment", it's the Energy Return On Energy Investment (EROEI). You simply cannot make any real money selling NG energy that took more energy to get. ...unless the banks are gaming it via the US energy policy.

Looks good! You covered the issues that concerned me.

Pricing in gold over time helps null the $FRN effect, IMO.

I also, use gold prices for long term comparisons. I had always done the calculations in $FRN. Sometimes it looked good, sometimes not so good.

Free includes debt-free!

The feds.

No manufacturer is going to mass produce without infrastructure (gas stations). Those got to go thru EPA.

The vehicle (the gas tanks in this case are the biggie) has to be approved by the feds. I think that is the Fed. Trans. Board. Last I checked that took $250,000 and it might get a rejection at the end.

and then there is the big margin question.

Each time the margins look good, gas goes down and/or natural gas goes up and the margins don't justify the change.

Look into DME

I think DiMethyl Ether may be a better route to take. Compare these pictures of DME, LNG, and CNG equipped trucks.