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Captain Hybrid

Slideshow: Chevy to Roll Out CNG-Capable Impala

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Rob Spiegel
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Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/23/2013 9:55:33 AM
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Hey, Chuck, I would expect we would see even more of these vehicles given the prolonged low cost of natural gas. A lot of cities -- like here in Albuquerque -- run their city busses on natural gas. But how does a consumer get the fuel. I haven't seen any consumer natural gas pumps in my city.

mrdon
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Re: Cheap natural gas
mrdon   10/23/2013 4:07:35 PM
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Rob,

Very good question regarding pumps for the CNG vehicles. I guess the natural gas pumps is currently being planned for the rollout of these fuel efficent vehicles. Where's Elon Musk when you need him.

Charles Murray
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Charles Murray   10/23/2013 8:32:18 PM
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You're right, MrDon, the number of public stations is miniscule. Unfortunately, I don't think Elon would be inclined to help us there.

GTOlover
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Re: Cheap natural gas
GTOlover   10/24/2013 8:07:01 AM
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Charles, the question should be where is T. Boone Pickens? I believe he is a big advocate for natural gas transportation. Although I think he focuses of semi-trucks and heavy haulers.

One thought about CNG, how will the road taxation be adjusted as the number of CNG vehicles grow. The EV car is starting to worry politicians as the tax reciepts for gasoline is decreasing as the mpg increases. Is CNG road fuel already taxed?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/24/2013 11:51:03 AM
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Good point, MrDon. I believe there would be wide acceptance of natural gas powered vehicles if the refilling stations were convenient. That may be a while off. there may not be enough time to set up the infrastructure before the CAFE standards go into affect, so this may not help automakers reach their mandated goal.

Charles Murray
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Charles Murray   10/24/2013 7:57:04 PM
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I agree, Rob. Infrastructure is key here. The nice thing about CNG vehicles is theyy're not waiting on science. The science is there, what remains is engineering and infrastructure.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/29/2013 2:45:13 PM
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Chuck, it seems that even the engineering is already in place. It also seems to me that natrual gas vehicles shouldn't be more expensive to build than gas cars. Put in some infrastructure and this might take off.

Charles Murray
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Charles Murray   11/5/2013 7:50:33 PM
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Right now, Rob, the makers of these vehicles work with outside suppliers to install the fuel tanks and plumbing. And that can add $9,000 to the price of a vehicle (bear in mind, Chevy has not announced this for the Impala). But I do believe that higher production volume would enable automakers to do this on the production line and cut a lot of the cost.

mrdon
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Re: Cheap natural gas
mrdon   11/10/2013 4:05:05 PM
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Rob,

All good points. I would considered setup of the infrastructure the big concern for the CNG vehicles followed by the CAFE standards. Well hopefully there is motion in both categories for this new vehicle initiative.

Charles Murray
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Charles Murray   10/23/2013 8:30:20 PM
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Yes, Rob, we will see a lot more of these vehicles, but the overall numbers will still be small. Navigant Research said earlier this year that there will be 35 million NG vehicles on roads worldwide by 2020. That sounds great, until you realize that there will be 1.5 billion vehicles on earth by that time. The total percentage will come to about 2%.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/25/2013 9:28:37 AM
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Chuck, do you know why it's been slow to see natural gas powered cars? Seems like natural gas has made huge strides with city busses. Why not cars, especially given the low cost of natural gas?

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/26/2013 9:42:34 PM
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Natural gas as a fuel source for passenger cars suffers from both a small number of refueling stations and a very real increased complexity of the refueling process. If you have ever watched people at the self-serve pumps it would be clear to you that a lot of folks just simply would be unable to "make the connection". The number of totally incompetent people around seems to be growing daily, and even worse, we are being forced to accomodate them by having many activities dumbed down so that even stupid people can do them safely. 

And make no mistake about my meaning: I mean stupid, which is about the opposite of retarded. Retarded people are amost always giving their very best effort and really trying, while stupid people put forth the minimum effort and really don't try because usually they don't care. And stupid is a choice that they make, not a condition that they are born with.

Aside from that wandering from the topic of CNG and LP fueled cars, the performance has not been as good as gas engine cars, probably because the conversions have not been as complete as would be needed for better performance. But I think that back in the seventies I read about a CNG fueled dragster. I guess that it never did well enough to make the headlines, though. But the initial performance postings were impresive.

GTOlover
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Re: Cheap natural gas
GTOlover   10/28/2013 10:33:33 AM
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Agree with you William K. Not only are people stupid, but apathetic to safety. How many smoke while fueling their car? But let's assume that CNG refueling goes the way of the Oregon law (you cannot fuel your own car at the gas station). Have you noticed how people maintain their vehicles? Most people just trade-in their car after it gets older, but then the people that buy the used car drive it like it is new and never seem to properly maintain the older car. I can only imagine what bent, corroded, or leaking CNG fuel lines would be like when the guy in front of you flicks his cigarette out the window!

Aside from going of topic, I did see an incredible  1966 GTO tri-power that was converted to a CNG vehicle. It boasted very good performance and it looked stunning and stealthy.

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/28/2013 12:46:40 PM
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GTOlover,

That may be the same one that I saw written up many years back. I don't imagine that there are that nany CNG fueld performance vehicles around.

Just think of the interesting possibilities, starting with boost pressure from a venturi fed by a scuba air bottle, which has been done a few times, and then adding a high pressure fuel feed from the 300+PSI propane tank. The controller to maintain the right mix would be a challenge, but for a singel application in a quater mile car it should be quite achievable. Just hope that the rest of the vehicle could hold itself togather for the run.  A green four second car, what a thing to show off. Plus, it would probably be impressive to hear. And the spark plugs may be good for more than one run.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/29/2013 3:37:05 PM
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William K, I wonder if the inefficiency of natural gas vehicles comes because most of them are conversions from gas engines. If the engine was designed specifically for natural gas, wouldn't tend to be very efficient?

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/29/2013 10:07:53 PM
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It should be possible to optimize an engine for best efficiency with natural gas. And direct injection would certainly allow mor variation if needed. But it would include valve timing, ignition sprk timing, airflow patterns in the combustion chamber, and injection timing. This amount of optimization would take some real effort and expense. There are companies that claim to have done some of it, I don't know how much has actually been achieved, and they are probably not wanting to discuss it. One interesting application is the natural gas powered generator set, which runs at a fairly constant load and a single speed. That one may already have been optimized.

But being optimized to the "best possible" is no promise that it will be very efficient, but only as much as it can be.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/30/2013 11:15:29 AM
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Even with everything you've said, William K, wouldn't it be an improvement on the gas-based internal combustion engine both on the environment and on the owner's pocketbook?

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/30/2013 1:32:36 PM
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Rob, that is a different question and easier to answer. Even a non-optimized CNG fuel system would provide a real cost savings, at least until the government figured out how to tax it enough to make it non-competitive. And due to lower combustion temperatures it would certainly produce fewer nitrogen oxides. So there is a real benefit. But it is still a combustion process burning hydrocarbon fuel, so that "carbon footprint" issue is still attached. But unburned fuel emissions would probably be reduced, and the exhaust would definitely smell better, so there would be a real emissions benefit.

The challenge now, as in 1970, is that natural gas and liquid propane are both used for heating purposes, where the sales have a completely different pricing structure. And even in 1970 the feds were concerned about how to tax folks who pumped up their gas tanks at home. It seemed vital to them to collect that extra tax even back then.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/30/2013 2:37:02 PM
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Good info, William K. And your comments underscore an earlier question I posed in this thread. Why haven't natural gas cars become more popular? Is it just the infrastructure? Car companies are not pushing these cars they they're pushing hybrids and EVs. Are there underlying reasons?

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/30/2013 2:44:35 PM
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Rob, I would venture a guess that the reason is that CNG or propane cars are just plain "NOT COOL!!" Never have been, either.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/30/2013 3:52:16 PM
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Interesting point, William K. I take it that EVs and hybrids are cool. Maybe that's because of subsidies. I would think efficiency, low cost, and low emissions earn a certain level of cool.

William K.
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Re: Cheap natural gas
William K.   10/30/2013 4:13:12 PM
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Rob, not that kind of cool, reaklly. A Hemi-Cuda with a 426 and a huge blower and 18 inch wide slicks in back is cool. But any papers showing what it cost are not. WE are not talking about MY opinions of cool, but rather those masses. Definitely not engineering types. 

jhankwitz
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Re: Cheap natural gas
jhankwitz   10/24/2013 9:29:50 AM
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You're correct Rob on the natural gas pumps. I saw extensive use of natural gas busses as well as natural gas taxies (all Toyotas) in Japan over 10 years ago. In these situations, they could easily be fueled at their home bases, so didn't need fuel stations located all over the place. I would think independent natural gas fuel stations would be very expensive to create and operate.  Natural gas cars will likely take a long time, if ever, to get into the consumer marketplace.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheap natural gas
Rob Spiegel   10/25/2013 1:28:41 PM
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You may be right about it taking long for natural gas vehicles to get wide consumer acceptance, Jhankwitz. But in some ways, it seems they would be less expensive than EVs or hybrids to produce. And if the pumps were widely available, I would think the low cost would make them attractive to consumers.

By-Tor
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H2 is a better option
By-Tor   10/24/2013 12:32:26 PM
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If you are going to have to build an infrastructure, why not make in based on hydrogen. That is the better option for long term usage. CNG can be converted to H2 and forget these cars.

AnandY
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Re : CNG Impala
AnandY   10/24/2013 12:35:53 PM
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The Impala was quite a hit when it came out, at least among Chev lovers like me, and therefore I was very excited at the prospect of a new Impala model that runs on bio-fuel. However, the manufacturers could have done more on the natural gas coverage of they really want to be at the top of this field. The 150 miles roof limits it to more of a day to day town vehicle and not a great option for long distance rides.

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