On the road with natural gas The climate-friendly alternative to gasoline, diesel and electromobility
Natural gas vehicles are comfortable to drive and are an efficient way of helping to reduce CO2 emissions. The German federal government has set the target of cutting CO2 emissions in Germany by 40 percent by 2020.
The mobility sector is responsible for around 20 percent of CO2 emissions in Germany. Hence, there is a great deal of potential to cut back here. A study by the Institute of Energy Economics (EWI) shows that if a fifth of the cars in Germany switched from oil-based fuels to natural gas by 2030, it would be possible to save up to 20 million tons of CO2 equivalent a year. That is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 2.5 million two-person households. Natural gas vehicles emit up to 25 percent fewer CO2 emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles.
Gas-powered vehicles are even more climate-friendly when renewable biogas is added to the natural gas, which is a fossil fuel. And with vehicles powered only by biogas, carbon dioxide emissions fall by 97 percent. Furthermore, emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter fall significantly with natural gas vehicles. That’s why natural gas vehicles have long since met the strict Euro 6 exhaust legislation in place since 2014. And this enables natural gas vehicles to drive in all low-emission zones.
In technical terms there is hardly any difference between a gasoline engine and a natural gas engine – with natural gas vehicles a mixture of gas and air powers the engine instead of a mixture of gasoline and air. The natural gas is stored in a pressure tank, which, depending on the vehicle model, can hold enough gas for 200 to 400 kilometers. Most natural gas cars have another tank for gasoline, which extends the driving range.
Natural gas technology scores high in comparison to electromobility too. This is because natural gas mobility, in contrast to electric vehicles, is already a proven and readily available technology. In addition, natural gas vehicles can achieve much longer distances, making them feasible for long journeys too.
WINGAS is setting a good example! Staff in Kassel use natural gas vehicles most of the time, thus ensuring environmentally-friendly business travel.
Natural gas vehicles become a popular alternative
Gas was used as a fuel for vehicles a long time ago: the first car powered by hydrogen took to the roads in 1863 – even before the first gasoline and diesel vehicles. And until the 1950’s, many gas-powered vehicles were on the roads all round the world. But then manufacturers started concentrating on gasoline and diesel vehicles, and natural gas drive systems had to take a back seat.
Since the middle of the 1990’s, more and more car manufacturers have been making natural-gas-powered vehicles in series production – from small cars to family cars, and small buses to limousines. Many fleet operators and taxi companies now prefer this alternative, and the number of natural-gas-powered buses and cars on the roads is growing.
The German motor transport authority registered a 78% increase in natural gas cars between 2007 and the beginning of 2013, and there are now over 100,000 cars and around 1,500 natural gas buses on Germany’s roads.
Growing network of natural gas fueling stations
Germany’s network of natural gas refueling stations is constantly growing: more than 900 stations across the country now offer CNG and even biomethane, which is particularly environmentally friendly. Natural gas refueling stations are also widely available in other European countries including Italy, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.
Natural gas or LPG
LPG is a variable mix of butane and propane; the main component of natural gas is methane. Hence, in terms of carbon footprint, natural gas performs better than LPG. Experts believe that LPG emits 10 to 15 percent less CO2 than gasoline, whereas natural gas causes about 25 percent fewer emissions. Furthermore, natural gas offers the possibility of adding biomethane, which is almost entirely carbon-neutral. There is currently no possibility of adding a renewable fuel to LPG to make it more environmentally friendly.
Savings – with no compromises on comfort & safety
The environmental credentials of natural gas vehicles are recognized by policy-makers in Germany: the mineral oil tax rate remains very low, at least until 2018, and gives consumers savings at the refueling station – around 30 percent compared to diesel and even 50 percent compared to gasoline.
Natural gas vehicles also have a good grading for road tax, which is calculated on the basis of emissions of CO2 per kilometer, amongst other parameters. Hence, natural gas vehicles enjoy important tax advantages thanks to their low carbon-dioxide emissions.
Natural gas vehicles are also safe. The tanks are made in such a way that they remain intact, even when there are heavy collisions. And the CNG fueling nozzles ensure that gas only flows when the vehicle is connected correctly and that the refueling process ends automatically as soon as the tank is full.
Mass-produced natural gas vehicles are still slightly more expensive than their gasoline counterparts – depending on the model, additional costs of around 2,000 euros can be expected. But there is also help at hand: some utility companies and regional gas suppliers subsidize the purchase of natural gas vehicles with bonus payments or refueling vouchers.