August 2nd, 2008 at 9:30am

As heard on
WWJ Newsradio 950

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T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oil tycoon is pushing an idea to run cars on natural gas. But here’s why cars like that never caught on in the past.

There are really two reasons why CNG cars never caught on. First, the high cost of converting a car to run on natural gas. A Civic GX which runs on natural gas costs $6,800 more than the same car with a gasoline engine. Why so expensive? Most of that is the tank, a carbon fiber-wound cylinder tucked in the trunk. It also has to do with special fuel injectors and forged pistons.

The second reason why natural gas cars never caught on is the relative difficulty in finding where to fill the tank. I say relative difficulty because even though all major cities have natural gas outlets, it’s not like they’re on every other street corner. And back when gas was cheap, most people couldn’t be bothered to go out of their way to find a CNG station. Maybe that will change with gasoline at $4 a gallon, but it’s very expensive to buy a car that runs on natural gas.

2 Comments to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Why CNG Cars Never Caught On”

  1. motorman Says:

    GM builds engines that run on natural gas and they are in the natural gas fields. the BIG problem is with the proper compressor you can refuel at home and the govt has not found a way to collect the road tax like they do on gasoline.i have gas wells and i am entitled by contract to many thousands of cubic feet of free natural gas and would love a CNG car from GM

  2. Rick Sutherland Says:

    I’ve read that a company has designed a simple, inexpensive device which can be connected to a persons residential natural gas line and also connects directly to a CNG cars fill port, allowing folks to fill-up at home. If so and if well publicized, sales of CNG cars would really take off.