The USA has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world, with 304 trillion cubic feet. THe USA could be energy independent in the near future, with a smart plan utilizing US produced oil, natural gas and coal.
- Natural gas pollutes about 1/3 less than gasoline when used for a vehicle fuel - Abundant, US produced fuel - About $2/gallon at a service station, about $1/gallon through a home fuel station - Similar fuel mileage compared to gasoline - Similar horespower compared to gasoline - Easier on engine internal parts than gasoline which means less maintenance costs
Natural Gas Concerns
Natural gas stations are not on every corner, how do I fill up my car?
This is definitely the chicken or egg concern. Do you buy a natural gas car when there aren't many stations to fill up at or does the service stations put in natural gas pumps when there are no cars on the road? There are currently about 1500 natural gas fuel stations throughout the US and with apps like what can be found at www.cngnow.com, you can find the nearest fuel station on your mobile device. The real "game changer" is the home fuel station. About 68 million residential customers have natural gas coming into their homes. With a home fuel station, you can plug the car in at night like you would an electric car and in the morning you are full of fuel at a much cheaper rate than filling up at a fuel station.
Is natural gas safe to use?
Natural gas has been used for decades on our roads. According to www.ngvamerica.org, there are 153,000 natural gas vehicles in the US and 15.2 million worldwide. Fleets like UPS, FedEx and Ryder have been changing to CNG vehicles for years. Natural gas vehicles have to pass all the same crash testing as gasoline vehicles do. There are DOT approved natural gas fuel tanks that are already on the market made from steel or carbon composites. Both gasoline and natural gas are a combustible fuel however if there is a leak that occurred from an accident, gasoline with pool on the ground but natural gas will dissipate into the air. Natural gas is stored in the tanks at high pressure so inspection of tanks are required.
Natural Gas vs. Gasoline
According to www.ngvamerica.org, replacing a typical older in-use vehicle with a new NGV provides the following reductions in exhaust emissions. - Carbon monoxide (CO) by 70 to 90 percent - Non-methane organic gas (NMOG) by 50 to 75 percent - Nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 75 to 95 percent - Carbon dioxide (CO2) by 20 to 30 percent These are the pollution benefits of using natural gas but there are also the cost and geo-political benefits as well. The cost savings can be anywhere between $.50-2.00 less a gallon and if we can get off using imported foreign oil, maybe we can leave the Middle East out of US energy concerns.
Natural Gas vs. Electric
There are pluses and minuses to both forms of propulsion. When Godsil Motorcars was being conceived the founder looked into electric. At the time electric power and range wasn't there for it to catch on. Elon Musk has changed that to some degree but there are still some set backs. Companies seem to be jumping onto the electric craze right now as a "zero emission" alternative to gasoline or natural gas. The problem is that electric cars are zero emission when they are being used, not when they are being charged. They take more energy to build therefore they are already at a negative compared to an internal combustion vehicle when they are new. During their lifetime they need to be charged through your home or at a charging station. Depending on how the electricity is produced in that part of the country they can either have a positive or neutral outcome. In the western part of the country it will probably be a more clean why of transportation when compared to a gasoline vehicle but in the eastern part of the country it is probably not any cleaner due to electricity being created by burning coal. These are the facts with electric versus gasoline and natural gas pollutes 1/3 less than gasoline. Another problem is the batteries themselves. When the Tesla Model S first debuted in Portland, OR Jason Godsil was there. Talking to the Tesla representative, Jason was told that in the Tesla Roadsters, the battery was $30,000 and needed to be replaced every 5-7 years. Jason owned a Lotus Elise at the time, which is what the Tesla Roadster was based off of, and after 5-7 years the engine didn't needed to be replaced in the Elise nevertheless the purchase price was $70,000 less for the Elise! On the Model S it looks like the battery life has been extended and the costs have come down to the $12,000 range. However, a typical internal combustion engine can last 300,000 miles and only cost $1500-2500 plus labor to rebuild. Only time will tell how well the batteries will perform but we are concerned that cars will be scrapped prematurely due to their high cost and depreciation of the car. At some point it won't be worth it to the owner to replace the battery. Our other concern is what will happen with all the replaced batteries. With hundreds of thousands of hybrid and electric vehicles recently built are we going to have a landfill issue with all these old batteries? Lastly is the "car guy" factor. An electric car really isn't exciting. There is really only two good looking electric or hybrid cars, the Tesla and the now defunct Fisker. The Fisker Karma hybrid was a beautiful car but was slow and cramped. With a gasoline engine for a generator, fuel tank, electric motors and batteries it was a big four-door car with no interior room! Jason Godsil spent a few hours driving the Fisker and it felt just like a heavy, large Corvette which is where a lot of the parts and engineering came from. It was just big and slow. The Tesla Model S is not as good looking as the Fisker but is a better car and has much more performance. A dual electric motor Testa can be purchased that is down right fast in anyone's book. However, it lacks the sound track that true car guy's long for. An electric car is like watching an action movie with the sound off, you only get half the sensation.
Our natural gas abundance continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Since the energy industry began fracking North America's shale rock formations and unearthed a virtual ocean of fuel, a variety of market pundits and government officials have touted it as a way to wean our addiction off foreign oil.