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Dramatic Growth Forecast for Global Natural Gas Vehicle Fleet

Association foresees, under favorable scenario, up to 30 million natural gas-fueled vehicles by 2020

Published: 28-Oct-2004

Around the world, 50 million vehicles could be using natural gas as their fuel inside 15 years, according to Juan Carlos Fracchia, vice president of the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV).

He was speaking in the Argentine capital at the opening session of the organization’s world conference and exhibition, which is being attended by more than 800 industry and governmental personnel from more than 40 countries.

Fracchia said there were at present 3.5 million natural gas vehicles operating in almost 60 countries, ranging from motorized three-wheeled rickshaws in India to long-distance freight vehicles in the United Kingdom, school buses and airport vehicles throughout the United States, and thousands of commuter buses and taxis in many of the world’s major cities.

“Natural gas is the logical replacement for oil,” he said, noting that global reserves of natural gas actually exceed those of oil. “Natural gas has an advantage over the other alternatives as its reserves have wider geographic distribution than oil … a gas refueling infrastructure already exists in many countries … and its combustion is the cleanest of today’s fuels.”

The present global NGV fleet of 3.5 million vehicles, while important, represents just five vehicles in every thousand on the world’s roads, Fracchia said, with present conversions from liquid fuels to gas adding about one million a year. “Taking into account the price and availability of oil, a favorable scenario could see 12 million natural gas vehicles by 2010, and 30 million by 2020.

“If we consider the plans of the European Community to have 10% of its vehicles fueled by natural gas, plus developments throughout Asia, we may have a spectacular scenario that would see 15 million NGVs by 2010 and 50 million in 2020.”

He cautioned that fuel replacement must be a State policy. Politicians, he said, were looking only to the short-term – or the extent of their electoral mandates – rather than 10, 15 or 20 years ahead. “We have a very favorable scenario. But natural gas vehicles have yet to reach their potential, and there is a need to work with individual countries to assist implementation of their fuel substitution plans.”

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