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How CNG Cars Got Beta-maxed By Hybrids.

Updated on August 19, 2010
100 mpg plug in hybrid! Courtesy
100 mpg plug in hybrid! Courtesy
Toyota Prius courtesy
Toyota Prius courtesy
Plug in hybrid.
Plug in hybrid.

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?


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    • nifty@50 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks Ang from Singapore for setting me straight about the Nasa Urban Legend! Paul Fisher developed the Pen and patent it after spending a reported 1-2 million of his own money. He then sold them to Nasa for 6 dollars per unit, then later sold them to the Russians, as well. Before this, grease pencils were used.

    • profile image

      Ang from Singapore 

      7 years ago

      That NASA used a specially-developed pen while Russia used the pencil is an urban legend. The reason for NOT using a pencil is that when the pencil lead breaks in space, you may not be able to retrieve it. No problem when you are in space. But when you return to Earth, that speck could damage a part of the spacecraft. And then who knows what might happen.

      Thought you might like to know.

    • nifty@50 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      In the United States, particularly in the state of Utah,CNG cars can be operated at a third of the cost of gasoline. I believe the economic consideration, at least in this country, is the main consideration for CNG cars. The main problem of course as the lack of fueling stations across the country. Thanks tonymac04 for you post!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      CNG cars are not an option at all in South Africa, unfortunately.

      The real problem is that cars are not regarded by most consumers as means of getting around but as status items and the concerns of most buyers, at least in South Africa, is with how much status can my car give me.

      Until they become again simply a means of getting around the environmental impact will be of little concern to buyers.

      Thanks for this interesting and useful discussion.

      Love and peace



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