How CNG Cars Got Beta-maxed By Hybrids.
A Superior Technology Is No Match For Practicality!
- The Nasa space program spent millions trying to develop a pen that would write in zero gravity, the Russians simply used pencils! Often times an inferior technology wins out for reasons of practicality! The term getting "Beta-maxed" refers to the winning video formate VHS (which most people considered inferior) which opted for a longer playing format 4hr sp , over the 1hr play time provided by Beta-max. The result was people opted for the longer play format over superior picture quality, as well as, movie distributors. The result was very few movies were available for Beta-max , which signaled it's impending doom. Like wise I foresee impending doom for Cng cars, because of the lack of available fueling capabilities!
The Cng(compressed natural gas) car has shown great promise, the United States has vast amounts of natural gas and converting even 10 or 15 percent of the US cars to Cng would have a major impact on our trade imbalance on our largest import foreign oil. Cng cars are some of the greenest on the road even greener than electrics or hybrids that rely on batteries that have a heavy environmental impact in both their production and their recycling. The hybrid utilizing a gas propulsion system that charges the batteries and powers the car at higher rpms, and it also adds pollutants. Plug in hybrids use, the power grid for power and to this extent, coal burning plants that produce electricity, produce pollutants.
Where Cng cars have really shined is out west, but especially in Utah where it has been as cheap as 63 cents for a gallon equivalent, and large tax incentives are given for buying one. In California it's over $2.00 in most places and even though they have over 180 stations many of these are not open to the public. This seems like a lot of hassle to save less than a buck a gallon. The Phill system that is made to fill fuel at home costs over $3000 and must be done over night. The motor must be rebuilt every few thousand hours of use at considerable expense.
As far as production models, there has only been one, the Honda Gx, a fully dedicated Cng car (runs only on Cng). The only problem is you can't go on a cross country trip, for fear of running out of fuel. There are many Bi fuel converted, mainly ex government vehicles, that pop up on ebay, which in my opinion make much more sense. Their cost are pretty close to their all gas counterparts. It's because of lack of fueling stations and lack of production vehicles that has given the hybrid it's chance to seize the offensive.
At first the Prius was considered an overly expensive economy car strictly for the likes of movie stars like Decaprio. The current recession sealed the fate of the Cng car by lowering fuel cost to the point that they fell of the radar screen, and at the same time Toyota drastically cut the price on the Prius, making it for the first time actually cost effective to buy. As of this last year, with all of the safety concerns over gas pedals sticking ect. Toyota is selling them cheap!
With the future of the Prius and a whole host of other hybrids secure, the natural progression to the plug in hybrid seems certain. They can be plugged in at night and driven for up to a 70 miles and costing pennies, then utilizing it's hybrid system. The only question is how many nuclear plants are we going to build and how do we dispose of the batteries?