FUEL: Why CNG can save money
Coeur d'Alene Press Letter to the Editor
Ronald Johnson's research (Wikipedia) and conclusions regarding natural gas as a vehicle fuel don't fully tell the story.
With 16 years of experience managing a fleet of city vehicles for a California city, I have been through it all regarding alternative fuel vehicles - propane, electric, CNG (compressed natural gas), etc. CNG vehicles were available in three different options - after market bi-fuel (gasoline/CNG), vehicle manufacturer bi-fuel and dedicated CNG. Overall, CNG is a safer fuel than gasoline and has a higher octane rating (105+). However, CNG has a lower gge (gasoline galion equivalent), which in real world operations, is about 95 percent of a gallon of gasoline.
Downside - bi-fuel vehicle engines can't take advantage of the higher octane equivalent of the CNG because the engines have to also run on the lower gasoline octane. Upside - a dedicated CNG vehicle's engine is manufactured to utilize all the power of CNG such as a higher compression and other engine computer control tweaks.
In regular city day-to-day operations, the actual loss of fuel economy for any CNG powered vehicle was very minor compared to the significant fuel cost savings. The only concern I would have is to ensure there are qualified mechanics or service facilities to maintain the CNG vehicles and there are both slow fill and fast fill CNG refueling available.
My best fleet vehicles were the Ford dedicated CNG F-150, the Honda Civic CNG and the Honda Civic Hybrid and a Tymco CNG street sweeper. These vehicles saved me a ton of money in my fleet fuel budget and over the years as the CNG fleet grew I even had annual reductions in the budget.
I found this letter, in response to a CDA Press story last week on the possibility of eventually converting Post Fall's fleet of vehicles to CNG, pretty interesting. I know very little about CNG and hadn't heard much at all about it until recently. Anyone have any additional info on CNG, pro or con, to share?