Thursday, May 22, 2008

CNG for me!

After a conversation I overheard my cousin Brad involved in about high gas prices and natural gas alternatives, I started looking in to it pretty seriously. Here's what I know:

You can buy a natural gas conversion kit for your vehicle. All gasoline vehicles can be converted but not all are certifiable conversions. In other words you can do it, but if you live in a state where they do tail pipe emission testing you may not be able to re-register the car.

They are pretty expensive. If you do a certifiable conversion it is about $12,000 - $15,000 for the kit. The certifiable conversion does give you tax credits in states where they do such things. I live in Wyoming where they don't do tail pipe emissions or tax credits. Also my '06 F-150 does not have a certifiable conversion kit so since it will not technically pass epa tests (it doesn't need to where I live) the conversion kit is about $8,000. I found a guy in Ogden who will finance the conversion. (up to 125% of the value of the vehicle)

The first thing you should know is that natural gas costs in Wyoming and Utah and I also think in Texas (because of the vasts reserves and proximity to them) are about $.70 - $.90 per gallon. For me that means that my 26 gallon tank will cost about $19.50 (in Evanston cng is $.75)instead of the usual $93.00. So far this month I have already spent about $600 on gasoline so for my current costs (and assuming gasoline stays the same price, which it won't) I could pay for the conversion in about a year.

Nothing changes with the vehicle mechanically, with the exception that you are likely to lose some power because cng (compressed natural gas) is much higher octane. (they say 10% of power loss is pretty common) Keep in mind though that the conversion kit keeps your vehicle as a hybrid, so if you need more power you push a button and your back to gasoline.

You get the same fuel economy with cng, you don't need to go to a special mechanic for routine maintenance, or any maintenance that is not directly related to the fuel system.

They add cng tanks to empty space in the vehicle. You can add tanks as small as 2 gallons or as big as 39 gallons (that's actually multiple tanks, but you get the point). You will lose trunk space in a car or bed space in a truck. The gentleman I spoke to recommends a 12.5 gallon tank for someone like me who is needs the truck's bed space, which takes up about the same space as a tool box. ( I think he said is was about 5' long x 18" round...they kind of look like propane tanks)

Long story short, I am on the guy's schedule for the conversion in about a month. He said it takes 3 days to a week to do the conversion.

For me, I can't afford not to do it.

3 comments:

Doug said...

Brilliant analysis. Just keep in mind the following points:

In past years many people purchased Diesel vehicles using the same logic. Diesel fuel was considerably cheaper. Not so now. Supply and demand.

Many people promoted biofuels, etc. Ironically it has driven up the cost of Food.

There is some good info at: http://www.naturalgas.org/business/demand.asp

Good luck in you quest. I'm personally waiting for Mr. Fusion.

Saric said...

That's why it's good to keep it a hybrid. You double your chances of not getting in a bad way. Plus the natural gas reserves locally are incredible. The point being that if the cost of cng stays below gasoline for a couple years it will have worked.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good plan for you and all the driving you do! All you have to do is use it enough to let it pay for itself and the rest is frosting! Is it any more dangerous to have that kind of gas in your car?
~mom