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Tokyo Gas to Promote Use of Bi-Fuel Subcompact Cars; Looks to Volvo Imports

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Tokyo Gas Co. plans to promote the use of subcompact cars capable of running on both standard gasoline and natural gas in an effort to expand the use of natural gas as an automotive fuel.

Japan’s CNG fleet numbered only some 27,000 vehicles at the end of 2005. Of that total, only about 40% were subcompacts, with the remainder being buses, trucks and other large vehicles.

Adoption of natural gas vehicles has been hampered by their lower range (about 300 km, or 186 miles) and higher prices. By modifying subcompacts so they are capable of running on gasoline after using up their supply of natural gas, Tokyo Gas hopes to help bring the use of natural gas into the mainstream.

The company plans to import Volvo subcompact bi-fuel passenger cars through the Japan Gas Association and modify their compressed gas tanks so that they meet domestic regulations.

The company also aims to retrofit natural gas-powered cars, including Toyota’s Probox, to use both types of fuel. Tokyo Gas plans to modify several subcompacts by the end of the current fiscal year.

Once modified, the cars will enter testing. Tokyo Gas hopes the results will encourage the domestic Japanese industry to produce such bi-fuel models.



Does Japan have a domestic natural gas supply?


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