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This Natural Gas Vehicle Trend Is Gaining Traction

The abundance of natural gas in the United States has countless entrepreneurs trying to figure out which direction to head for profits. Clearly, natural gas-powered vehicles are a great idea and have been in the works for quite some time. Thanks to T. Boone Pickens and his Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE  ) , the future of vehicles driven by natural gas appears to finally be reaching a point of inflection. 

After finishing the first 70 stations of its "Americas Natural Gas Highway" initiative, the company is seeing some gains early in 2013. In its first quarter of the year it sold 14% more fuel that at the same time last year. Fleet vehicles have been the early adopters of natural gas as a fuel source, but the addition of consumer vehicles running on natural gas would certainly raise the speed limit of revenue growth.

Major companies have bought in already. And with Cummins and Westport Innovations (NASDAQ: WPRT  ) teaming up to produce heavy-duty, long-haul engines the transportation industry in the United States could be in the process of a revolution. For more details, tune in to the following video.

While the natural gas trend is gaining momentum, oil is still the main player in today's energy game. For more information on energy sources, check out The Motley Fool's "3 Stocks for $100 Oil." For FREE access to this special report, simply click here now.

Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 11:20 AM, bobby488 wrote:

    don't buy in to it they will go up on natural gas it will be well over $4.00

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 11:27 AM, AjitC wrote:

    Natural gas is a non-starter for mass transportation for several reasons.

    - Passenger cars - They have to use compressed natural gas at pressures of at least 5,000 psi. It takes a heavy alloyed steel tank and takes most of the trunk space... and it is expensive. The range per fill is just 2/3 of comparable gasoline car and produces much less BHP than comparable sized engine. Very dangerous in an accident or in the wrong hands. Expensive equipment needed to compress and store.

    - Truck - They need to use liquified natural gas which increases the cost of producing, transporting and storing in cryogenic tanks. Got to take HAZMAT precautions. Truck drivers or assisting personnel need special training and use HAZMAT suit when filling. Expensive trucks, extra 60+k/truck to convert at least. Unused gas has to be vented outside after the trip. Dangerous and no good for Ozone layer.

    It may make sense to use LNG for trains due to the huge economies of scale, but railroads have been cautious.

    Meanwhile, the same technologies like hydrofracturing, etc that increased production of NG, are being used in oil production, here and in other countries. Price of crude oil will collapse at some point.

    What we need is efficient use of energy, not reckless use of energy. Use of renewable energy as much as possible.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 11:50 AM, PeakOilBill wrote:

    The Obama administration is going to approve the construction of LNG export terminals, despite the fact that the process of liquefaction and ocean transportation will waste 25% of the energy in the gas. If the US starts exporting LNG, not only will the domestic gas price triple, but the supply will be exhausted in about 30 years, leaving your children and grandchildren dependent on foreigners for heat and electricity. Any new industries dependent on cheap natural gas will shut down as soon as the LNG terminals get going and foreigners bid up the gas price here.

    And shale gas wells deplete within only a few years. Once the gas near the well bore has been extracted, the flow into the well bore through dense shale slows to almost nothing, unless another expensive fracking operation is conducted. Generally, the additional gas production from the rework, will never cover the cost of doing it. It will take a few more years of drilling with borrowed money, before that becomes obvious.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 2:11 PM, Itsjustmeagain wrote:

    In 1973, I was issued a Nash (something) GSA propane fueled car in Detroit. The vehicle had stickers all over it "clean air car" and other slogans, an embarrasment to drive. But...

    The car had the performance of my sedan at home and drove many miles (too long ago to recall) until I needed a refill. Back then, it was a typical LP place where you filled your grill tank. It took no longer than filling with gasoline.

    I did lose a little more than a foot of trunk space for the tank, but that could be easily engineered to a more compact shape and location.

    The car was sluggish when first starting out, but it was near zero degrees. Performance improved once I got out of the parking garage and the sun heated the trunk. A preheater like in a dessiel truck should handle that. The one performance issue I did have was the radio. This was a Govt. car, so it had none.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 2:27 PM, mkloppel wrote:

    The amount of absolute ignorance in the three of you is amazing. Sure prices will go up as demand increases, gee SUPRISE! And as competition increases between NG/oil it will draw prices down...that is some tough economics.

    New tanks and old are more than capable of being used as reliable safe and affordable carriers.

    Fee free to fell less ignorant after watching this video from over 30 years ago:

    Exporting LNG will not be the end of the world. Not only is it none of your business who these companies sell to, NG is already so cheap that even if it did double production could easily ramp up and keep prices down.

    Your entire post seems to try and sell us the old used up idea that we will run out of energy. Think ahead for a minute, how often has that been true...and do you honestly think we will not find alternative forms of energy production? No, nice try, just like we learned to tap rocks for fuel we have PLENTY of alternatives.

    Just stop. Go sit in a room and read through Henry Hazlitts "Economics in one lesson" about 15 times before ever speaking again, its on the internet and its free. Please.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 2:58 PM, Itsjustmeagain wrote:

    The contender in my book is still the Hydrogen (H2) powered car. Take water and break it down to Hydrogen and Oxygen. The H2 is used and the byproduct is water which comes out of the tail pipe.

    Mercedes, BMW and other European cars are being built. Refilling stations are in place with regular gas stations in metro areas. Norway invested in stations along their "interstate" highway system, using several means of self sustaining production. California has stations clustered in California and other States. Jay Leno, Schwarzenegger have H2 cars. Cheap? Not yet but when an infrastructure is complete more will be sold, more competition and prices will fall.

    This does not consume natural resources, you break water down and when the H2 is consumed it recombines back to water. You do need electricity, but commercial power delivered by NG plants or solar and the carbon footprint will be much smaller than today.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 3:52 PM, Itsjustmeagain wrote:

    Since the issue of exporting was brought up, when will we learn?

    We give away "our" natural resources to any industry, then watch as they ignore the needs of the US and prostitutes themselves and the product to foreign markets. If oil is a business model, they will take and give back nothing to the citizens. We export more oil now than we import but why are domestic prices still high?

    There is no market problem if banning exports of LNG will mean lower production. There will still be production and competition and our natural resource will be available for decades and more. There will be greater progress in using NG because the lower price will make R&D investment attractive. Once new uses are developed, demand will increase and increase production supply. For example, low NG prices would encourage gasification of home systems by piping gas to older, electric only neighborhoods and communities. How much would that save us, the consumer? The opportunities are many, and denying the industry another free opportunity to rape the citizens of the US is necessary for energy independence.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2013, at 8:27 AM, Grandpastu wrote:

    It's a good idea but the petroleum companies are now obsessed with selling most of the natural gas to other countries for greater profits and political benefits. The US citizen will take it in the shorts yet again!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2013, at 10:30 PM, hewills7 wrote:

    I personally have watched "Saddle Creek Corp." personnel fueling their LNG tractors and there was no Hazmat suits. In Lakeland Florida terminal they have apx 20-30 trucks running LNG.

    THE BIGGER CONCERN: Seeking Alpha(s) recent article.

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