Natural gas in a highly condensed form – referred to as CNG (compressed natural gas) – is offered as fuel for motor vehicles on the Austrian market. One kilogram of CNG currently amounts to 1.5 liters of gasoline, respectively. Natural gas costs approximately a third less than traditional types of fuel. Furthermore, natural gas-powered cars are in no way inferior to vehicles that run on standard fuels: They can easily travel stretches upwards of 500 kilometers. That is the equivalent of the distance between Linz and Venice. In addition, natural gas-powered vehicles are usually equipped with an additional fuel tank.
CNG pumps can currently be found throughout Austria at 172 public gas stations. The operators range from OMV to bp, Eni or Avia – and in the coming years, the network of gas stations offering natural-gas pumps is intended to expand to around 200 locations.
Current subsidies on the Austrian market
Natural gas-powered cars represent a market with enormous growth potential. The reasons for that are, in addition to the attractive costs compared to gasoline and diesel, primarily significantly lower CO2 emissions. Therefore, in many regions the excess costs for natural gas-powered cars are compensated by means of subsidies. The respective implementation thereof depends on each individual state.
For example, in Lower Austria there is an alternative drive subsidy amounting to €700 for the purchase of a new vehicle or the conversion of an old one. Furthermore, Salzburg AG also offers the ErdgasDrive subsidy in Salzburg, where compensation occurs in the form of filling vouchers equaling up to 500 kg of natural gas. In the state of Tyrol, purchasers of new natural gas-powered vehicles receive an environmental bonus amounting to €1,000, in addition to the “incentive” that they can park their vehicles in certain short-stay parking zones that are normally subject to charges. The greatest subsidy offer is provided by the state of Styria through the “clean air” campaign. In addition to financial subsidies for private citizens, commercial and industrial customers, as well as driving schools and taxi companies, also receive an amount of up to €950 for the purchase of a natural gas-powered automobile.
Driving as usual
Filling up natural gas-powered cars is just as normal, quick and comfortable as it is with vehicles that use other forms of fuel. Since natural gas-powered cars are also series production vehicles and are therefore barely distinguishable from others, car maintenance and service is conducted just as it is for standard ones.