Jun 2013

The CARLAB America’s Natural Gas Alliance>

In this day and age we are all about saving money at the pump. Nothing breaks my heart like my weekly trip to the gas station to fill up. It’s become an issue when I start playing the gas game: if you risk driving on empty for today, will prices drop a few cents by tomorrow? With prices yo-yoing like an Osmonds song, you can believe I jumped at the chance to test drive bi-fuel natural gas vehicles at the CARLAB event in Los Angeles.

The Add Natural Gas campaign teamed up The CARLAB, Landi Renzo, and America’s Natural Gas Alliance to build six vehicles that run on natural gas through bi-fuel system.

The bi-fuel system allows for primary driving to use natural gas, and extended trips or extreme conditions to use regular ol’gasoline in a seamless transition. From a 2012 Hyundai Sonata Limited to a 2013 Honda CR-V EX 2WD, the Add Natural Gas campaign converted and engineered a wide variety of six frequently purchased vehicles into bi-fuel systems. What’s unique about this series is that they use CNG (compressed natural gas) as opposed to LNG (liquified natural gas), which is already commonly seen in national fleets and commercial vehicles. CNG is the same gas that runs to most of the homes in America, which means that to fill up your car, you don’t need to go to the gasoline station; just plug in your car when you get home from work to refuel it with the same natural gas that powers your dryer, furnace, and oven.
We spent the day at the SoCal Gas Company’s Playa del Rey storage field hopping between cars and SUVs that were all running on natural gas bi-fuel systems. On the road, there was virtually no difference between driving a bi-fuel natural gas vehicle and my own regular gasoline car. By driving a variety of vehicles on a route that was surprisingly my daily routine, and enjoying cruising around town as powered by natural gas. Had I not been told these vehicles were all running on natural gas, I wouldn’t have noticed based on how they all handled on the road. Even the 2012 GMC Acadia Denali managed to zoom up the freeway on-ramp with no issues.
My favorite part is the practical at-home savings. It’s incredibly cost-effective for OEM (original equipment manufacturers) to install the bi-fuel natural gas system as calculated by The CARLAB, and it costs consumers a fraction of the cost of gasoline to fill up with natural gas for their day-to-day commutes. Plus, natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline, so if you’re in a polluted city like I am here in Los Angeles, you’ll feel better about your personal carbon footprint. The CARLAB insisted they wanted customers to make no compromises, and it’s evident in the power of the vehicles, as well as the intact cargo capacity on each of the vehicles they converted (the natural gas tank is in the trunk, but you’d never notice!).
Soccer moms, young professionals, environmentalists, and road trippers can all benefit from the ease in driving a bi-fuel natural gas vehicle. A representative of Whirlpool (who is working on prototypes of at-home CNG refueling systems) described the theory as being as simple as plugging in your phone at night to recharge. Likewise, if you wanted to travel on a ski trip or visit relatives in a different state, you could easily fuel up with basic gasoline and drive anywhere you’d like. With natural gas becoming more abundantly discovered and reserved, there’s no reason not to move forward with the future into natural gas vehicles and bi-fuel systems.
Attended and written by Jayda Knight you can follow Jayda on Twitter