Natural Gas Vehicles Are Getting International Attention

The idea of natural gas vehicles has been kicked around for years in the United States. With the recent surge in domestic natural gas production, though, natural gas cars are becoming an even more possible scenario. The idea is gathering enough steam that the International Energy Agency believes that natural gas vehicles will almost double their market share within the next five years. Granted, a doubling of a 1.4% market share isn't much, but for companies in the business of natural gas transportation, it's a big jump. 

Considering the effort required to build out a fueling infrastructure for natural gas vehicles, a five-year time horizon is pretty short, and not much should be expected during that time. Also, as contributor Tyler Crowe describes in this video, not all vehicles are created equal. Tyler explains how natural gas is pursuing a certain segment of the vehicle industry and talks about what it will take to bring natural gas vehicles to the mainstream.

As the most advanced designer of engines powered by natural gas, Westport Innovations is a small company with a big goal: to lead the world in transitioning away from traditional oil-based fossil fuels in favor of abundant, cheap, and clean natural gas. The company has a price tag large enough to match its ambition and will need to grow revenue quickly to justify sky-high expectations. To help you determine whether Westport Innovations is right for your portfolio, The Motley Fool has just released a brand-new premium report breaking down the company's opportunities, competitive advantages, and risks. To get started, simply click here now for instant access.

Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (10)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 11:46 AM, norcalguy101 wrote:

    The railroad industry in the United States has embarked on replacing their diesel electric locomotives with new natural-gas powered locomotives.

    The railroad industry is literally powered by their locomotives and needs to looks long range when investing in a complete change-out of their fleet. This is a clear, unequivocal sign that natural gas is the most cost-efficient fuel for transportation.

    Truck fleets are converting as well from diesel.

    Now if we can just get the passenger vehicle to convert. Importations of overseas crude oil would evaporate soon thereafter.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 11:51 AM, koolkotton wrote:

    Yes, I remember converting pickups, trucks, and tractors to butane in the fifties. Then came "cheap" diesel engines with more power. Now we know what happened to the price of diesel. The same will soon happen to NG as demand increases. We should be focusing on alternative energy sources like wind and solar.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 12:14 PM, jvosshouston wrote:

    Foreign countries have been using LNG for vehicles for many years, especially in the Asia Pacific Region. Take Bangkok, Thailand for example. If you would have traveled to Bangkok back in the 1970's you would have had to wear a mask, the pollution was so severe. If you go today, you will see the air if very clean in that city now. All buses, taxis, and even the world famous Tuk-Tuks have been mandated by the Thai government to convert to LNG. Even their highly efficient Sky Train is electric. You will find this happening also in Malaysia, Singapore, and other countries in the region.

    With the USA having a glut of natural gas, it is showing to be one of the slowest areas in the world to wake up. This, along with our government not signing off on permits to build LNG conversion refineries, so we can become a natural gas exporter is irresponsible.

    Hopefully in my life time America will wake up.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 3:44 PM, toomuchgas wrote:

    We need a President who is willing to create new industries and jobs by allowing the natural gas industry to sell the products they produce. Get out of the way Obama and let Americans have jobs and cheap fuel.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 3:47 PM, Itsjustmeagain wrote:

    In 1973 I had a General Services Administrtaion car issued to me in Detroit. It was a small vehicle and ran on Propane. I did need to drive several miles to find an authorised propane outlet.

    Tampa area now has a multitude of LNG outlets that will service private cars. If memory serves me, it was about 10.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 4:07 PM, norcalguy101 wrote:

    A Caterpillar advertisement in the late 1960's stated: "The Future Belongs to the Efficient".

    Government infringement on free enterprise by spurious regulations intended to fight the false premise of global warming are quixotic.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 5:55 PM, GT6 wrote:

    This is nothing new. I was in a taxicab in Spain in 1970. It sputtered to a stop. the driver got out and switched tanks in the trunk and explained it ran on propane.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 6:55 PM, KennnyF wrote:

    Where I live, very large city buses (including the ones that are chained together) run on natural gas. There's no loss of horsepower in piloting these big vehicles.

    The only problems that I see with the conversion are:

    1. The LNG vehicles are still much more expensive than a comparable gas or diesel vehicle. The payback can be at least 3 years or more.

    2. As was mentioned in the article, the availability of LNG re-fueling stations is a problem. There are very few of them and it's going to take time and money to get more of them.

    I don't believe that current engineering technology would allow large vehicles like tractor trailers and buses to run on wind or solar. Electric vehicles are currently limited by distance and don't offer enough horsepower for a big truck or bus. Not to say it can't be done, but it's beyond today's technology.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 7:04 PM, Petronilus wrote:

    Using natural gas is nothing new and will only be an intermediate solution not fixing the CO2 emission problem we have.

    The future lies in electric cars because you can get much better efficiency than using combustion engines and with less total CO2 emissions (even considering coal power plants).

    The Model S Tesla car that launched recently got reviewed by Consumer Reports as "best car ever" and is purely electric. The USA should lead in the future of electric cars and at some point, the fusion reactor technology, that makes everything come together with great sense from a cost and environmental perspective.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 8:23 PM, phillipzx3 wrote:

    "Get out of the way Obama and let Americans have jobs and cheap fuel."

    So where's the our cheap gas because of the huge supply we have. We have so much excess, it's a top American export.

    Want a better fuel? Let's start producing biodiesel to replace dinodiesel.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 10:50 PM, Postaldog3 wrote:

    There is a problem with natural gas vehicles. It is the cost and necessity of the maintenance of its systems. Thailand is rethinking its push for natural gas vehicles after many vehicle fires due to owners not maintaining their vehicles and letting the vehicles to develop gas leaks. Maintenance has become a safety issue with natural gas vehicles.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2013, at 11:31 PM, cityperson wrote:

    I would like to convert my Jeep to natural gas, but here in CA it all most takes an act of Congress to this.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 1:06 AM, VegasSmitty367 wrote:

    The oil companies will stop us from converting to natural gas until they can but up all the natural gas wells.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 7:58 AM, EdHamox wrote:

    CNG= Compressed Natural Gas. Transferred to vehicle tank @ 2,000 to 3,000 lbs.

    LPG = Liquid Propane Gas. Transferred to vehicle tank at 90 to 300 lbs. About 10% loss of HP. Sometimes funky starting in cold weather. Special maintenance training required.

    Forklifts have been running on LPG for 50+ years.

    Some on CNG for less time than that.

    Different storage vehicle tanks, tanks have to be permanently mounted to the vehicle.

    Different carburetion systems from gasoline, same engine.

    Not a backyard, shade tree conversion project.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 8:37 AM, TheAmerican1776 wrote:

    In case none of you enviro whack-job greens have figured this out let me explain something to you...

    Natural gas is still a - FOSSLE FUEL STUPID!

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 8:56 AM, denniskim wrote:

    rural america is the perfect place to begin thismconversion! live in nw iowa, there is a NG filling station in every small town due to farming needs. all we need is an affordable conversion kit for our vehicles!

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 10:32 AM, whassup44 wrote:

    Chevy Volt coming out with nat gas engine

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 2:48 PM, mossie3 wrote:

    If you're doing a cost comparison, you need to factor in about $.50 per gallon tax for gas, that NG doesn't have.

    By the time you add an equivalent amount of tax to NG, and factor in an astronomical increase in demand for NG, along with an equivalent decrease in the demand for gasoline, the price gap would decrease immensely, perhaps evening out.

    That being said, assuming NG moves us toward energy independence, I'm all for it, even if it costs the same as gasoline.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 6:21 PM, LauraKearns wrote:

    Most of the natural gas used in the U.S. is going to homes and businesses, but it also powers more than 100,000—and counting—vehicles. It’s popular with fleets and buses: non-toxic, odorless, clean-burning and cheaper than gasoline and diesel. And now consumers can buy natural gas vehicles. This replacement fuel is key in helping us break the oil monopoly.

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