SEAGD Answers Frequently Asked Questions About NGVs
SEAGD is committed to educating consumers about natural gas vehicles (NGVs).
- There are more than 8.7 million NGVs in use worldwide today, and more than 120,000 of those are on U.S. roads. There are more than 1,100 NGV fueling stations in the U.S., and more than half of those are available for public use. Natural gas is sold in gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs), and a GGE has the same energy content (124,800 BTUs) as a gallon of gasoline. NGVs have the same GGE fuel economies as their gasoline-powered equivalents.
- Ninety-seven percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. is produced in North America (85% from the U.S. and 12% from Canada), and every gallon equivalent of natural gas used in vehicles is one less gallon of petroleum that has to be imported.
- With natural gas (on average) about half the cost of conventional gasoline at the pump, NGVs are a practical choice for fleets that are centrally maintained and fueled. Fleet-type vehicles taking advantage of natural gas include the following: garbage trucks, school buses, delivery vehicles, forklifts, over-the-road trucks, transit buses and taxicabs.
Why are people converting their vehicles?
The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel is prompting many people to investigate options to retrofit or convert their car or pick-up truck to run either (1) solely on natural gas, which is referred to as “dedicated” or (2) to run on gasoline or natural gas, which the federal government refers to as “dual-fuel” although the accepted nomenclature for such vehicles is “bi-fuel.”
How much does it cost to convert a vehicle?
Converting a new vehicle provides the greatest opportunity to save fuel cost and, thereby, pay back the conversion cost and generate life-cycle savings. The costs range from $10,000-$18,000 and include the retrofit system, fuel tanks and related tubing/brackets, and the installation. The amount of fuel capacity requested by the customer significantly impacts cost. Potential customers should contact manufacturers directly about vehicle conversion costs.
What impact will converting my vehicle have on the original warranty?
Generally, installing aftermarket parts does not affect the original equipment manufacturer’s warranty. This is the case with the installation of aftermarket conversion systems. The EPA has stated that the “vehicle's original manufacturer remains liable for warranty of any systems which retain their original purpose following conversion, except in cases where the failure of such a system is determined to be caused by the conversion.” In addition, EPA guidance states that “the conversion system manufacturers would be responsible for the emissions warranty for any parts or systems added by the conversion.” For more information on warranty provisions, the parts covered, and the duration of these warranties, there is detailed guidance at www.epa.gov/OMS/cert/dearmfr/cisd0602.pdf.
What federal or state tax credits apply to conversions?
There are currently no federal or state tax credits for vehicle conversions in Alabama.
Where can I find a list of CNG fueling stations?
The most comprehensive lists of CNG stations are available from the following web sites:
http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/natural_gas_stations.html(U.S. DOE- maintained site of U.S. stations)
http://apps.usa.gov/alternative-fuel-locator(U.S. DOE mobile phone app)
What if I am planning a long trip?
Generally, CNG vehicles are best suited to applications where the vehicle remains in one area to allow for regular refueling at existing fueling sites. While fueling networks are developing in many markets, there are gaps between markets that may make long-distance travel more challenging. Use the above websites, then contact the station you plan to use on your trip to confirm the information is up to date.
My home is heated with natural gas. Can I tap into my home system to fuel my vehicle?
Yes. Homeowners with an existing natural gas supply line may be able to purchase a home refueling system designed to fill their vehicle overnight. Gas from the same supply line that feeds their house is compressed and stored onboard the vehicle by a “vehicle fueling appliance”. Some of these devices are about the size of an outdoor house air-conditioning unit and the unit is installed outdoors, usually adjacent to your garage. There also is a unit called the Phill that is smaller and can be installed in the garage. The larger (outdoor) vehicle refueling appliances compress and dispense about 0.9 gasoline-gallon-equivalent per hour. The Phill compresses and dispenses about 0.4 gasoline-gallon-equivalent per hour. For more details, see http://www.impco.ws.
Are there tax credits for installing home CNG refueling systems?
Home CNG refueling devices qualified for a federal tax incentive $1,000 through December 2011. Congress has proposed but not yet adopted legislation that would extend this incentive beyond 2011. More information about the available federal tax incentive can be found at http://www.ngvamerica.org/incentives/index.html.
Where can I find a list of manufacturers?
Visit http://www.ngvamerica.org/pdfs/marketplace/MP.Analyses.NGVsa.pdf for an up-to-date list of EPA-certified engines retrofit and repowersystems.
Are used natural gas vehicles available for sale?
Government agencies have been the largest purchasers of light-duty natural gas vehicles, and many sell their vehicles after reaching a specific age or mileage benchmark. Examples include federal, state and local government agencies, airport and transit authorities (light-duty sedans and pick-up trucks are often used by security, route supervisors and/or maintenance personnel). These vehicles are often low-cost and have remaining life on them. The site for auctions is http://autoauctions.gsa.gov/autoauctions/home.seam.
What safety requirements apply to natural gas cylinders?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency with jurisdiction over vehicle safety, requires that all CNG fuel storage cylinders conform to federal safety standards found in FMVSS 304 (49 CFR 571.304). Natural gas cylinders also must have a label that (1) states the date of manufacture and the date that the cylinder is required to be removed from service (typically 15-20 years), and (2) instructs the vehicle owner/operator to have a qualified visual inspection of the tank every 36,000 miles or every 3 years (whichever occurs first) and/or after an accident or fire. Inspections are performed to look for tank and bracket damage (e.g. gouges, cuts, abrasions, dents, corrosion, rust, general wear, etc). Converters and vehicle owners should have documentation that this safety inspection has been done, especially if installing used cylinders that still have remaining life (as noted on the cylinder manufacturing label). Qualified cylinder inspectors are located throughout the US. The cost/time associated with a cylinder inspection is minimal. More information about CNG cylinder inspections and inspectors is at http://www.cleanvehicle.org/technology/cylinder.shtml. Check with the manufacturer or the qualified system retrofitter concerning recommended service practices and warranty coverage.
How do I contact SEAGD for more information?
Additional information about NGVs may be obtained by contacting Les Culpepper or Shannon Gooden at 800.660.8683.