Behind the Costs of CNG Conversions
One thing that I would like to add (assuming that you didn’t already know this or learn it since posting your piece), is that the cost of CNG conversions for existing vehicles is as high as it is because of EPA licensing requirements. For an individual (or shop) to be licensed to do a conversion, the person must pay $10,000 per year, per engine type, per year of manufacture. So that if a conversion shop wanted to do conversions in 2009 for Camrys for the years 1995 to 2005, the shop owner would have to pay the government $100,000 in licensing fees. Then, if he wanted to do conversions on the same models in 2010, he would have to pay the $100,000 again, even though they are the exact same models and engines that he has been licensed on already. And if there is more than one engine involved, i.e., a 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder, the cost would double.
Therefore, if a shop owner wanted to do 10 model years of Camrys and Corollas and Celicas, and well as Honda Accords and Civics, unless there were common engines being used in these five models the licensing cost (for just one engine per) would be a half million dollars, which would have to be paid again in 2010. These fees are, needless to say, ridiculous and are only there to ensure that many don’t get done (thanks to the gasoline lobby). The cost of the conversion kits are actually relatively inexpensive. If there was a sensible licensing fee (or no fee) the cost for the work could be just a few hundred dollars.
The Natural Gas Debate
RR point on regulation kill for CNG vehicles, correct, from my perspective. My enthusiasm for these vehicles peaked when the once retired Canadian engineer decided to go back to work solving the costly fuel problems. He invented a home refueling device “Phil” that solved the infrastructure problem. The pump was about as complicated as installing a gas dryer. Pump would have benefited with longer lifespan, but for first gen product o.k.. It hasn’t exactly caught on. Regulations, inspections, permits, and liability a big anchor drag. Funny, I worked with a Pakistani engineer whom knew first hand CNG transportation fuel from home. Looked up the stats on safety concerns. Could find no justification for the U.S. hyper expensive regs, other than to stymie a low cost home owner controlled fuel source.
It costs 10x more to convert a car in U.S. to CNG, compared to Pakistan. All import kits must be U.L. approved. Annual certs and inspection required for fuel tank. Expensive certified labor required to install the refueling station. Same for car conversions. End result…..economically unjustifiable. Surprise.
The high pressure tank easy to fear monger. Talked to a Russian Engineer whom said back home CNG within car fleet is popular as so cheap. What is wrong with our country?
Seems like much of the premium for the cost of a CNG vehicle in the US is nothing but licensing and bureaucratic nonsense and has little to do with safety. Why should the US have conversion costs far higher than every other country? Other countries maintain CNG vehicle fleets in the millions with low cost, we should be able to do the same. We need to change these regulations so we don't punish CNG vehicles.
The oil barrel is half-full.