Fuel of the future

by / Comments Off on Fuel of the future / 217 View / November 28, 2014

  • Compressed natural gas cheaper than petrol or diesel fuel
  • Environmentally-friendly, very low cost-per-kilometre and emissions

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is here to stay. Forecasts indicate that its use in cars will grow rapidly over the next few years, due mainly to comply with the emissions objectives laid down by the European Union. On this issue Andrew Shepherd, CNG expert at SEAT, says that cars running on compressed natural gas “offer very low CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions in comparison with other more conventional fuels”.

And the environmental advantages are not the only ones. Drivers’ pockets are also going to benefit from the advent of this new technology, thanks to “its fuel efficiency” again according to Shepherd. One example: the 600-kilometre road trip between Barcelona and Madrid costs hardly 20 euros. The fact is that the fuel costs of cars powered by CNG are between 30 and 50% lower than diesel fuel, and between 50 and 60% lower than petrol.

Today’s cars run on a combination of CNG and petrol. SEAT has developed three dual-tank models: the Leon TGI, the Leon ST TGI and the Mii Ecofuel, all equally safe as cars running on traditional fuels. “These cars come off the assembly line in Martorell, meeting the same standards of quality, development and guarantees as any other model in our range”, adds Shepherd.

There are some two million vehicles powered by CNG in the European Union: Italy is the main European market for this fuel, whereas in Spain there are currently 4,000 units, a figure that is likely to increase in future years with the rolling out of a broader refuelling network, something that will stimulate the sale of this kind of vehicle. In fact, a recent European Union directive stipulates that “there should be a refuelling station every 150 kilometres, and major cities should have sufficient infrastructure”, according to José Freire, head of mobility solutions at Gas Natural Fenosa. “For some years our company has located compressed gas refuelling stations in major cities”, adding that “over the past few years we have developed stations on the main radial roads, corridors and principal thoroughfares in the Iberian peninsula”.

The ultimate aim is none other than to create a sufficiently large network to provide a strong, definitive stimulus for the use of this sort of vehicle.