Natural Gas auto news

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2015 Chevy Impala Bi-fuel burns CNG, starts at $37,385*

05/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chevrolet, Natural Gas

2015 Chevy Impala CNG

Currently, the only natural-gas-powered passenger car offered for sale by an OEM in the US is the Honda Civic Natural Gas. Starting this fall, that long-running CNG car will be joined by a CNG-burning 2015 Chevy Impala for both fleet and retail customers. General Motors announced today that the car will start at $37,385, plus an $825 destination charge. That comes to $38,210 before taxes and options.

Those options include two trim lines, the base LS and the upper-level LT. Chevy doesn't break out the details in the press release announcing the price, but you can see the trim details for the standard gas-powered 2014 Impala here. Exact information on the 2015 models is not available just yet, but GM spokesman Chad Lyons told AutoblogGreen that the equipment that you see listed on the site for 2014 is "almost exactly the same" as what will be available for 2015.

The 2015 Impala gets around 19 city mpg on CNG, but official EPA numbers are not yet available.

That means the LS will come with 18-inch aluminum wheels, electric variable-assist power steering, projector-beam headlamps, and 10 air bags. The LT adds an eight-inch touch screen with MyLink, premium Cloth interior and dual-zone automatic climate controls. The cost for this upgrade is unspecified. For CNG purposes, we can ignore the numerical prefix used for the gas-powered LT trims, since that denominates the engine type, and all the CNG models use a 3.6-liter engine with hardened valves and valve seats that can better handle natural gas. The trunk capacity also drops from 18.8 cubic feet to 10 cu .ft. in order to fit in the CNG tank that holds the equivalent of 7.8 gallons of gas. That amount of CNG should move you 150 city miles, which is around 19 mpg, but official EPA numbers are not yet available. With the addition of the gasoline on board, the overall range is 500 city miles. The car burns CNG when available and switches to gas with "no interruption" either when the tank is empty or when the driver selects the gas tank. Find more details in the press release below.

GM says the CNG Impala will will be available nationwide this fall. CNG is a growing fuel in the US, thanks in part to fracking. The Civic Natural Gas, which starts at $26,640, is growing towards a nationwide availability. Next year, for example, the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Detroit will allow CNG for the first time.

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Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2014: Students find upsides pretty much everywhere

05/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Diesel, Emerging Technologies, Ethanol, EV/Plug-in, Green Culture, Hydrogen, MPG, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, Natural Gas

Shell Eco-marathon 2014

The skies threatened rain, but aside from a few fat drops struggling down through the Texas air, the track remained dry through the end of the 2014 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Given the haphazard way some of the vehicle bodies were held together - a bit of velcro or pieces of tape doing the job door hinges do on normal cars - this was a very good thing. The dry roads also meant that all of the teams were competing on an even footing, in this one aspect at least. After all, the 100-plus college and high school teams came to downtown Houston, TX this past weekend from across North, Central and South America and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Given wildly difference school sizes, team sizes and budgets, the students all had on thing in common beyond the dry road: true passion for achieving high efficiency.

There were failures everywhere but also a whole lot of successes.

There were first-time teams, there were veterans. There were schools that took inspiration from the movies with cars based on Back To The Future and the Indiana Jones movies and some that went for the most efficient shape they could CAD. There was a middle school student who talked her way onto a high school team. There were seniors giving the Eco-marathon one last go before graduation. There were failures everywhere but also a whole lot of successes.

This year, we thought we'd learn a bit more about the students and their stories. Last year, we reported an in-depth story on how the Eco-marathon works, which you can read here. Basically, to recap, the students try to expend the least amount of energy while covering the most distance. Within the rules, which emphasize safety, there is a lot of freedom for the teams to experiment, which is why you see all sorts of vehicles running around the track. Not a lot has changed, ruleswise, from last year, aside from the addition of gas-to-liquid as a possible fuel and a rules change for EVs that we'll get to in a moment. You can find the complete 2014 results here, but the headline number is that Laval University, from Canada, won the gasoline prototype category with 2823.41 miles per gallon. The University of Toronto Supermileage team was close behind with 2711.97 mpg. Given the distances covered and the way the small amount of fuel burned gets measured, that's basically a tie. That's how the Toronto team tells it, anyway.

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2014 Honda Civic Hybrid now available nationwide, CNG model in 37 states [UPDATE]

02/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrid, Honda, Natural Gas

2014 Honda Civic Hybrid

As promised, the 2014 Honda Civic is about to get a little green update. A hybrid gas-electric version will join the standard 2014 Civic in Honda showrooms nationwide tomorrow and a natural gas-powered model will join the party on February 15th, but only in 37 states.

Both new models will get the updates that Honda applied to the other 2014 Civic models, including a seven-inch touchscreen display audio and expanded view driver's mirror, which are both now standard. Read our review of the 2013 Civic Hybrid here but note that enough has changed with the new model to go from an EPA rating of 44 miles per gallon across the board to 44/47/45 city/highway/combined. The CNG model is rated at 31 mpg in all three categories. The 2014 Civic Hybrid will start at $24,635, while the compressed natural gas (CNG) Civic aims a bit higher, starting at $26,640. More details on these new vehicles is available below.

If you're happy with earlier versions of the CNG Civic, then you'll be happy to know that 2012 MY vehicles at participating Honda dealers still comes with a $3,000 fuel credit that can be used at Clean Energy stations, the largest brand of public compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the US. If you don't have a Clean Energy station in your area, the Civic CNG comes with a $2,000 prepaid debit card to be used at other refueling stations. We've asked Honda for information on which 13 states will not offer the CNG model and will update this post when we get that information.

UPDATE: The 37 states are now available below.

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SOTU: President Obama promises tougher truck mpg standards, more renewable energy

01/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Biodiesel, Emerging Technologies, Ethanol, MPG, Solar, Legislation and Policy, Natural Gas, USA

State of Union speech President Obama

The green car rhetoric of President Obama's State Of The Union speech last night was much, much softer than it was three years ago. That was when he spoke about a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. It was even less vociferous than last year, when Obama said we could take money given to oil and gas companies and put it into an "Energy Security Trust." So, what is the state of the green car union for 2014? In a word: renewable. In two more words: natural gas.

"The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact" - President Obama

President Obama said that, "America is closer to energy independence than we've been in decades," thanks to both natural gas (which is a good thing, "if extracted safely") and an ever-growing amount of solar energy. He said that another American home or business "goes solar" every four minutes and he called on Congress to "help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas." On the regulatory side, Obama said he would work "in the coming months" to set a new fuel economy standard for trucks. This means heavy trucks like semis, as light-duty trucks are already covered in the 54.5 miles per gallon CAFE standard for 2025 agreed to in 2011. The President did not mention biofuels or plug-in vehicles in his speech. He did acknowledge new General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who was a guest of the First Lady.

As is usual with a State of the Union speech, details were scarce, so we'll have to see how this all plays out in the coming months. One thing that did come across loud and clear, though, was that Obama does not want to discuss the matter with global warming deniers. "The debate is settled," he said, "Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say 'Yes, we did.'"

You can find the full transcript of the SOTU speech here or watch it here. We have reactions from some groups in the green car sector available below.

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Ford starts production of CNG-ready F-150

11/30/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Manufacturing/Plants, Ford, Natural Gas

Ford F-150 CNG

The Ford Motor Company is getting competitive on the compressed natural gas (CNG) truck front. While Detroit counterparts General Motors and Chrysler have a head start, Ford has begun manufacturing its 2014 F-150 - the first CNG/LPG-capable half-ton pickup - and the CNG engine will be extended to eight of its commercial vehicles.

Ford is now building the CNG F-150 at its Kansas City, MO, factory with a 3.7-liter, V6 engine with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that can run on either natural gas or gasoline. When it comes equipped with a bi-fuel CNG/LPG engine package, the F-150 can travel more than 750 miles on the combined gasoline and CNG tanks.

Along with the half-ton pickup and bi-fuel vehicle options, Ford has an ambitious goal of offering eight of its commercial vehicles with the natural gas option. Ford's full line of commercial trucks and vans will be covered - Transit Connect, E-Series van, F-Series Super Duty pickups, F-650 medium duty, and more. Details are in the press release below.

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