Natural Gas Vehicles or Electric Vehicles

Jan 16th, 2013 | By Aubrey Yee

While most people in America now agree that vehicles running on fuels other than gasoline are a good bet for the future, many people may still be wondering which innovation is better for them - the CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) vehicle or the Electric vehicle? Forbes recently ran an article comparing the two technologies to see how they measure up against one another and here’s what they found…

1. Efficiency - The EV’s often win in this category because of the simple fact that EV’s run off energy produced by a large power plant operating at higher efficiency on a per unit basis. CNG’s run off liquid gas in a conventional engine which is inherently less efficient.

2. Filling Stations - EV’s also win in this category, with a typical 240-volt EV charging station, that can charge a car in about 3-8 hours, costing only about $2,000. And, according to Colin Read, vice president of corporate development at Ecotality, “DC fast chargers are currently around $50,000 with installation, although these prices are anticipated to come down greatly.”

> Natural Gas pumping stations, on the other hand, can run about $750,000 according to Bruce Russell, director of communications at Clean Energy Fuels. Their company builds CNG stations. In an effort to control pricing and increase accessibility, Clean Energy Fuels has created a line of portable and modular filling stations. As a result of these higher costs, it seems like CNG vehicles make most sense for a fleet, like UPS or FedEx, where fueling would be done en mass at a central facility.

3. Vehicle Cost - In this case it’s really a toss up. For example a Nissan Leaf is about $27,000 after the federal tax credit, while a 2012 Honda Civic CNG starts at about $26,000.

4. Fuel Costs - Again, in this category the EV’s win with only the cost of electricity to consider. But CNG cars still perform well next to traditional gasoline cars. Fueling a CNG car will run about $2/gallon.

5. Range - This is where the CNG vehicles shine. They can typically get about 300 miles per tank of gas, while most EV’s only get about 100 miles per charge.

6. Charge Time - It takes only a few minutes to fill a CNG tank with gas. It can take hours to charge your EV.

The reality is, each technology has its pros and cons, and it matters where you live and the type of driving you do. A long haul trucker could never use an EV vehicle for cross country trips, but an urban commuter with solar PV on their home might find that electric is the right way to go.

This past year, we’ve looked at a variety of innovations in the transportation industry including how certain commercial fleets are already using natural gas, and we’ve profiled some of the sexy new electric vehicles that are on the roads today.

At Sustainable America, we’ve made it our mission to help the United States reduce dependence on oil for transportation. Both EV’s and CNG vehicles help to achieve this overall goal. We think that both have a place on the road and hope that with advances in technology, costs for these vehicles will come down and access to fueling stations will increase in the near future.

Tagged: sustainability, sustainable living, oil prices, sustainable transportation, Compressed Natural Gas, fuel, electric vehicle, ev, cng, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Alt Fuels

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