The year-end has brought smiles to environment lovers. Colorado and three other states pledged to buy CNG vehicles. This means less environmental damage as it is produces lesser CO2, C0, NOx, etc. than any other fossil fuel.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and governors of Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Oklahoma signed a Memorandum of Understanding to add natural gas vehicles to their transportation fleets. They have mutually pledge to replace some of their old gasoline fleets with those running on compressed natural gas.
This is to encourage automakers to develop vehicles that use natural gas and also promote cleaner-burning option. Also, it will lessen foreign dependence on oil - producing nations. The move is in line with the President's view on oil dependency.
Starting his career as a geologist, the Colorado Governor has always propagated the use of natural gas. He touted the idea as it will benefit the State in cutting emissions. The MOU is a better way of tackling market barriers than offering subsidies. The basic assumption is that increased vehicle demand from public sector will have a positive impact on consumer buying.
The MOU seems practical for Colorado as the State is a large resource of natural gas with two large fields in western and south-western region of the state. And, as per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the quartet is ranked higher in production of natural gas in 2009(Wyoming - No. 2, Oklahoma - No. 3, Colorado - No. 5 and Pennsylvania - No. 12).
If the State adds CNG vehicles to its fleet, CNG gas stations will increase. Until now, most such stations are only located in and around Denver. This means Coloradans who are shying away from buying CNG cars will reconsider it. If this happens, then Clean Energy Fuels will have to start concentrating on passenger vehicles as well.
Although a CNG car is expensive at the time of purchase, the overall cost of the car is definitely less than gasoline and diesel cars. In Colorado, gasoline is available for an average of $4 a gallon whereas CNG is available at around $2.89.
All these developments suggest that buying a CNG car is not a bad choice. After all, think of all the savings you will make over time.
Once you have made your decision, there will be several other things that will come to your mind. So, let's start addressing them.
The Usual Question-Do You Want a New or Used Car?
Brand New Beauty
A new car means high investment in the beginning. But, buying a new car will allow youto be tension free as it will be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. So, it will cover almost all car problems.
If you are thinking of a new car, then Honda Civic GX is a good option. It's third generation was awarded the 2012 "Green Car of the Year". Although it is expensive than the standard Civic, it offer you CNG.
There are several cars which use the bi-fuel options and switch effectively from CNG to gasoline. The options available with you are Chevrolet Cavalier Bi-Fuel and Fiat Siena. You can also go for LPG/ Petrol category if you find the option worthy.
The Classic One
If you think that buying a new car will burn a hole in your pocket, then you must go for used car. If you be a little cautious while buying a used car, you can definitely get a good deal.
So, now the question - Do you want to buy a car that runs on CNG or you want to tweak it after you purchase it?
If you are buying a pre-owned CNG car, you can choose from the makes and models that are certified by EPA or purchase a car from a government auction of pre-owned fleet vehicles.
When it comes to buying a CNG car, you have many options. You can visit your local dealer or even opt for private party sale. The web is a perfect place for searching your car. There several websites which provide detailed information about car inventory. Using the web will definitely broaden your search and reduce chances of ending up with a lemon.
How to Install a CNG Kit?
If you decide on buying a gasoline/diesel car (new or old- it's your choice), you can install a CNG kit in your car and convert it into a money -saving machine. The only thing that you want to keep in mind is that you must check whether your car can be legally allowed to convert into a NVG. This information can be availed from the link - http://www.ngvc.org/pdfs/marketplace/MP.Analyses.NGVs-a.pdf.
Only, Or, And?
Well, buying a car ensures you get a plethora of options. While installing a CNG kit, you can go for the Dedicated, Bi-Fuel or the Duel Fuel option.
If you chose the Dedicated vehicles option, then your engine will operate ONLY on natural gas. The Bi-Fuel option offers you to run your engine on either CNG or gasoline, but not both at the same time. The third option of Duel Fuel lets you have an engine that largely runs on natural gas but uses diesel for ignition.
Certified CNG Kit
There are strict regulations when it comes to installation of CNG kits. Colorado follows the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process as well as the California Air Resources Board(CARB) procedure. This makes the Colorado standards stricter as CARB's certification process includes more testing for new as well as retrofit (conversion) systems.
FuelTek Conversion Corp., and Impco Technologies, Baytech Corp., BAF Technologies offer EPA certified systems. (Only last two are CARB certified).
If you don't buy certified kits or install your system from an uncertified installer, then both the authorities can levy heavy fines.
The conversion will cost you something around $ 12,000 and will include the retrofit system, fuel tanks, related tubing/brackets, and installation. The major factor that affects the cost is the amount of fuel capacity. This means you can lower your prices by reducing your fuel capacity.
How To Refuel Your Car?
Well, currently Colorado has few CNG stations where you can re-fuel your car. You can search for a near-by gas station by clicking on the link-http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/natural_gas_stations.html.
If you want to avoid the sparse gas stations, then there is another option of home-fuelling systems like theFuelMaker 'Q' and 'Phill'. This equipment will allow you to tap into the home gas line. You can either install it in the garage or outdoors.
'Q' will cost something $10,000 plus installation and 'Phill' will be around $3,000, with another $500 to $1,000 for installation.
Will Conversion Cause Any Problem With The Original Warranty?
You don't have to worry about the Original Equipment Manufacturer's warranty. EPA makes it clear that OEM is liable for warranty, leaving all those cases in which the failure is caused by the 'conversion'.
Also, EPA states that the Conversion System Manufacturers are responsible for the emissions warranty of equipments and parts added for converting your car.
Is There Any Benefit In Terms Of Taxes?
You can avail tax credit to offset 75% of the cost from Colorado Department of Revenue for your car if it uses alternative fuel or natural gas. The only condition is that your car should be titled and registered in Colorado.
Also, Income Tax credits can be availed under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PL 109-58). The tax credit is equal to 30% of the cost of natural gas refueling system. The cap is $ 1,000 for home refueling appliances. If you want to avail this tax credit, it is necessary that you buy the system before its expiration date of December 31, 2011.
Do CNG Cylinders Require Any Safety After Installation?
Yes, CNG cylinders contain fuel and hence you must check for leakages and ensure condition of the valves. You must also know the removal date of cylinder which is mentioned on the cylinder body. As a cautious driver, you must inspect the cylinder tank every 36,000 miles or every 3 years (whichever occurs first). Also, you must check it after accident or any fire. You must also carry the necessary documents showing proof of the safety inspection.
So, this is how you can get advantages of one of the cheapest fuels. I hope this article solved all your doubts and removed all queries from your mind.
It's time to put all apprehensions to rest. It's time to buy a CNG-fuelled car and explore the beautiful Centennial State. Take your fuel-efficient car to the Colorado National Monument or the beautiful city of Love-land and enjoy the natural vistas.
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