Numerous manufacturers offer factory-built natural gas trucks, step-vans, transit buses and school buses, there are fewer options for consumers who need light-duty cars, vans and pickup trucks — but the market is starting to turn. Honda Civic Natural Gas. Not surprisingly, the Civic is in high demand. It has been joined in the market by CNG versions of the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 2500 CNG and Ford F-250 pickups, as well as Chevy Savana vans and Ford Transit and Transit Connect vans. More options are coming soon.
Outside of purchasing one of these vehicles, American consumers have two other options — converting their existing vehicles to run on natural gas or purchasing from a government auction of pre-owned fleet vehicles.
Public transportation across the country has been using CNG for decades. Currently, about 12-15% of public transit buses in the U.S. run on natural gas (either CNG or LNG – liquefied natural gas). That number is growing, with nearly one in five buses on order today slated to run on natural gas. States with the highest consumption of natural gas for transportation are California, New York, Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
CNG on the Rise
Consumer use of the fuel is most prevalent in California and New York. Utah is catching up fast, with the most CNG stations per capita and more than 5,000 CNG vehicles on the roads. With a $3,000 state tax incentive credit and CNG prices at about 86¢ per gasoline gallon equivalent, it's no wonder that even the governor drives a CNG vehicle.
Many other states have federal vehicle tax credits in place to provide incentives for drivers to purchase CNG vehicles or to convert their vehicles, if it's one of the limited number that qualify, to run on CNG fuel.
It's Time for Supply to Meet Demand
Roughly 250,000 of the 12 million CNG vehicles worldwide are in the U.S., according to GE, including aftermarket conversions. The nation's only light-duty, factory-produced CNG vehicle in production, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, has been on the market since 1998. Though these vehicles are selling out faster than they are made and production is expanding, no other automakers are currently manufacturing light-duty CNG vehicles in the U.S.
The bottom line is simple. We need more major automakers manufacturing new CNG vehicles at home and more American consumers taking them to the streets.