Business community seizes the initiative for natural gas mobility

Broad alliance announces more vehicle models, service stations and biomethane

Frankfurt am Main. Leading representatives of vehicle manufacturers, the energy industry and automobile customers have agreed to strengthen the position of natural gas and biomethane as fuels and so help reduce CO2 emissions from road traffic. At the International Automobile Exhibition (IAA) in Frankfurt am Main, the members of the "Natural Gas Mobility Initiative" declared their intention of expanding the range of natural gas vehicles and network of service stations, as well as increasing the ratio of biomethane in natural gas used as fuel. They also called for better general political conditions, for example an extension to the reduction in energy tax for natural gas as a fuel, public funding for the construction of natural gas filling stations and transparent display of prices.

"We aim to work together to leverage the great potential of natural gas and biomethane as climate-friendly fuels," said Stephan Kohler, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena), which is coordinating this initiative. "The transport sector must also make a contribution to the change in energy policy. Our declaration of intent shows to everyone involved what concrete steps are now necessary to establish natural gas mobility as an important alternative."
Dr. Andreas Scheuer, Parliamentary Vice-Minister at the German Federal Ministry of Transport, received the declaration of intent on behalf of the government and welcomed the initiative: "I'm delighted that energy and automotive companies and the automobile club ADAC have joined forces to increase the market share of natural gas-powered vehicles. The need to protect the climate and secure our energy supply means we have to create a broader energy base, including for transport. Natural gas and biogas are an important element in this, not only for cars, but also for trucks. So are expansion of the service station network and range of vehicles, as well as appropriate marketing. The German government will intensively examine the declaration of intent as part of its 'Mobility and Fuel Strategy' and consult with the players on concrete implementation measures."

The car manufacturers in the initiative - Daimler, Iveco Magirus and the Volkswagen Group - aim to kick start the German market for natural gas vehicles by sharply expanding the range of automobiles they offer. The number of such vehicles is to increase from the current level of 90,000 to around 1.4 million by 2020. Volkswagen will widen its range of gas-powered vehicles to include other segments and brand names in the group (Audi, Seat, Skoda). For instance, there will be a natural gas-powered "up!" in the small car class as of mid-2012. A gas vehicle will be offered for the first time in the compact class, for example for the Audi A3, as of the end of 2013. Mercedes-Benz will use a natural gas drive system in its new B Class. The commercial vehicle manufacturers Iveco and Mercedes are to expand their offering to include gas-powered series for specific sectors and uses.

The 'Natural Gas Mobility Initiative' aims to increase the number of natural gas fueling stations (900 at present) significantly. Above all, the goal is to offer gas at highly frequented locations. Finally, the alliance wants to ensure that at least 20 percent of the natural gas used in transport is replaced by climate-friendly methane by 2015. Residues are to be used to a greater extent for this so as to avoid competition with food production.

On behalf of the initiative, Stephan Kohler emphasized the advantages of natural gas as a fuel: "Natural gas and biomethane produce fewer CO2 emissions. Moreover, the transport sector must become less dependent on oil in future. Natural gas is an established technology that is already available on the market and also gives customers financial benefits. Anyone who switches to a gas-powered car is rewarded by tax breaks from the government and pays a lot less to fill up. We now have to create the right general conditions quickly and the necessary infrastructure to persuade customers."

Dr. Ludwig Möhring, WINGAS Managing Director, responsible for Sales in Germany and Europe: "In the future, after the agreed energy reform, natural gas will play a major role in the German energy mix, partnered with renewable energies - and not just because it has the best CO2 values in relation to the other conventional fuels. We see further growth potential for natural gas, not only in electricity production, but also in natural gas mobility. In any case, considering the numerous advantages of this fuel, such as its flexibility and extensive availability, the question arises as to why the fuel natural gas, as an economical alternative, has not already obtained its rightful status in the mobility sector long ago."

"If we want to give more weight to environmental protection in the field of road transport, natural gas must have a more significant role as a motor fuel", Möhring continued. "Already now, as a motor fuel, natural gas is a marketable, reliable and environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline and diesel. Our goal must be to significantly increase the proportion of natural-gas-based vehicles on German roads. As one of Germany's largest natural gas suppliers, WINGAS is ready to provide more gas, in order to achieve this goal."

In particular, natural gas vehicles are financially attractive for the public sector and commercial customers, but also for private customers who drive a lot. Consequently, the initiative's participants intend to coordinate their marketing activities more strongly in the coming years and focus on these customer groups.

The "Natural Gas Mobility Initiative" brings together vehicle manufacturers (Daimler, Iveco Magirus, the Volkswagen Group and the VDIK (Association of Motor Vehicle Importers)), the oil industry (BP / Aral, Shell and UNITI (German Association of Medium-sized Mineral Oil Enterprises)), the gas industry (erdgas mobil and WINGAS), the biogas sector (VERBIO), gas technology (figawa (Association of Companies in the Gas and Water Industries)) and the automobile club ADAC. The initiative is accompanied by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) and coordinated by Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena).

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