Tag Archives: Natural gas car

Why we are asking Americans to buy electric cars?

It costs $40,000 to buy a Chevrolet Volt which under ideal conditions has a range of 60 miles but at least the Volt can switch to gasoline once the battery falters.  But the range is more realistically 30 or 40 miles. Nissan’s Leaf, a car that runs entirely on electric power can realistically get 50 miles down the road even though Nissan claims a range of 100 miles.  The Achilles heel of all electric only cars such as the Leaf is you are out of luck if you ever want to travel  longer than short distance commutes.  What I really want to know is why electric cars are being foisted on the American public and why we continue to be addicted to foreign oil. Suppose we could buy a car today for $15,000 that doesn’t normally run on gasoline, but if it had to, due to its normal fuel being temporarily unavailable can switch to a plentiful supply of gasoline.

First off we could tell Saudi Arabia and every other Mideastern oil producing nation, “We are not buying your oil because we don’t need it, we despise you for supporting those who destroyed the World Trade Center while killing 3000 Americans, and we detest the way you treat your women so you can just take all your oil and shove it into that place the sun never shines.  So instead of our stealing from our own poor to help you build ski resorts in the middle of the desert we are going to be energy independent and start powering all our cars from American natural resources.

The car exists.  I can buy it just two miles down the street from me.  In Thailand it costs just $22,000 to buy one.  But one must keep in mind that here in Thailand a Mazda Miata sports car that costs just $25,000 in the U.S. costs $50,000 here because of the import duty.  However, a car that is assembled here will cost a lot less.   For example, my Honda Civic that set me back $26,000 would cost less than $20,000 in the U.S.  So I should be close to spot on by suggesting that this car can be sold for around $15,000 in the U.S.  But the best part of it is, this revolutionary car isn’t made by Honda or Toyota.  It’s made by General Motors.  And yet, even people who work for General Motors in the U.S. don’t  know that it exists.

The Chevrolet Aveo (there will soon be a name change for the new model) employs a dual fueled engine so it will run on either natural gas or gasoline.  There’s a gasoline storage tank that is right where it is on most cars and it holds 40 liters of gasoline which is roughly 10.7 gallons.  But in the trunk there is a small tank for CNG fuel. CNG stands for Compressed natural gas.  It is getting to be very popular here in Thailand where it costs just one third as much to drive a CNG powered car as it does its gasoline powered equivalent.  This small CNG tank will deliver about 130 to 150 miles of range which is far better than one is ever going to get out of a Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt.  And whenever one wants to switch to gasoline, one only has to turn a toggle switch that is near the steering wheel to go to the gasoline fuel tank.

Granted, the CNG tank will take up a fair amount of trunk space, but you will still be able to put a lot more things in your trunk than you would in the saddle bags of a Harley Davidson.  Its critics will also contend that CNG doesn’t deliver the same power  as gasoline.  For instance my Honda Civic with its 1800 c.c. engine delivers 140 horsepower whereas the CNG powered Civic, which is presently the only natural gas powered passenger car you can buy in the U.S. today, produces 110 horsepower.  But how much do you really need?  In the early 1980’s I had a Volkswagen diesel that produced only 48 horsepower but I could still go over 90 miles an hour and I drove the car all over the United States while enjoying every minute of it.

The naysayers are going to tell you, it won’t work because CNG is hard to find in American gas stations. Well first, this Chevrolet Aveo will simply allow its owner to fill up with gasoline wherever CNG is unavailable.  Secondly, if you allow me to become dictator over the United States, I’m going to tax everyone an additional five dollars a gallon on gasoline.  That means you won’t be buying gasoline for much longer, not when you must make the choice of having to pay $8.00 a gallon for gasoline and the equivalent of $1.50 for CNG.  There’s going to be refueling outlets for CNG springing up like mushrooms across the entire country.

The naysayers are also going to tell you that natural gas powered cars are unsafe. That they will catch on fire easily.  They will also tell you that refueling such vehicles is complicated and inconvenient.  First off, I’ve been living here in Thailand for six years now and I’ve never seen a natural gas powered car catch fire.  I will also suggest that over half the taxis I’ve ridden in run on natural gas and I really can’t tell the difference as a passenger between riding in a gasoline powered car and one that runs on natural gas.  And not once has a Thai taxi driver ever suggested to  me that CNG is unsafe.

As for the convenience factor of using CNG over gasoline, it used to be that one had to couple a hose to the car’s fuel tank and that meant screwing and unscrewing it in the same manner one would attach or detach a garden hose to  a faucet.  But just a few months ago the taxi I was riding in pulled up to an upright tank in a nearby filling station.  The taxi had its natural gas filling valve on its lower right side in the same place it would have had been filling up with gasoline.   The attendant had the natural gas line hooked onto the fill up valve of the taxi in seconds by using a quick coupler.

I am not about to become dictator.  I only used the analogy to point out how easily all of this can be done. The United States has up to a three hundred year supply of natural gas.  If it decided to use it to fuel nearly all its cars and trucks we would have no need of foreign oil.  We do in fact still supply 50 % of our oil consumption with domestic oil.   So there’s no need to have a military presence in the Mideast or to even pretend to be friends with such countries as Saudi Arabia.  So just think of all that money that would be available for other purposes–such as rebuilding the U.S. economy?  This  one is a no brainer and any Congressman who doesn’t want to do it is only thinking about the fact that every single one of them gets money from the oil companies to finance his re-election campaign.