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Forecast: 17M Natural Gas Vehicles Worldwide by 2015

Cleantech research firm Pike Research forecasts growth in natural gas vehicles (NGV) on the road worldwide to 17 million units by 2015, up from 9.7 million in 2008. Pike Research forecasts that the NGV market will grow globally at a CAGR of 5.5% to reach just over 3 million vehicles (including conversions) by 2015.

The top five markets for NGVs are currently Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, and India. Pike Research anticipates India will be the fastest-growing NGV market with a CAGR of 18.4% between 2008 and 2015. This rapid expansion will largely be due to the availability of refueling stations and the growth of government emissions rules in large cities in India.

Despite growth of the market as a whole, the US NGV market is expected to remain dominated by fleet sales to government and commercial customers (89% of sales in 2015). Pike expects the CAGR for US NGV sales to be 17.7% between 2008 and 2015, which translates into 31,347 vehicles (including conversions) sold in 2015.

In general, the demand drivers for NGV adoption come down to four key drivers, according to the report:

  • Economics. The fuel has to be cheaper than gasoline/diesel to recover the additional cost of the vehicle within a reasonable amount of time.

  • Environmental benefits. NGVs have substantially lower GHG, CO2, and NOx.

  • Energy security. In most regions, the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel is for the purpose of reducing the usage of imported crude oil or imported refined gasoline.

  • Availability. The fuel, vehicles, and repair technicians have to be readily available or the market will not grow.

Although economics is the most important of these drivers for all markets, the report says, the others also play a key role. Indeed, the other drivers take center stage in some specific markets (e.g., governments may mandate that NGVs be used to provide cleaner air quality).

Governments, fleet managers, and consumers are increasingly recognizing the environmental benefits of lower emissions from natural gas vehicles. However, lack of refueling station infrastructure has inhibited NGV demand in many countries. In regions where NGVs have strong market performance, adoption is largely due to a combination of inexpensive natural gas, a large number of existing refueling stations, and government subsidies of vehicles, fuel, and infrastructure.

— Dave Hurst, Pike Research

Pike Research’s report, “Natural Gas Vehicles”, analyzes the opportunities and challenges facing NGV cars, light trucks, and medium/heavy duty trucks. The report includes an assessment of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicle technologies, and it also examines key drivers of demand with both fleet customers and private consumers.



Using solar water heaters and / or heat pumps to reduce domestic demands for gas. CSP or PV can redude the use of gas for peak electricity demands, and introducing wind power will reduce the amount of gas burnt in baseload electricity provision.

If biofuels are going to be used, biomethane is the least worst option.



NG power plants could provide peak load (on demand) during low Sun and Wind power periods. Hydro power plants can very easily do the same and use the huge water reservoirs as power accumulators.

Domestically, many houses are already equipped with dual heating systems; Hydro heating or e-heat pumps down to -12C and then (NG or Oil) for lower temperatures. Residences equipped with dual heating systems benefit form special lower (about 50%) electricity rates.

NG vehicles do not operate that well in very cold weather.


Optimal vehicle is probably a PHEV powered by methane. Methane is available from biomass sources (anaerobic digestion) and can even be synthesized from electrolyzed water (hydrogen) and CO2 drawn from the air (CO2 + 4H2 -> CH4 + 2H2O).



Methane can be made from gasification of biomass and synthesis of methane. It is not hard to take CO/H2 and make CH4. Once you have the synthesis gas, you can make other fuels as well.


NG vehicles do not operate that well in very cold weather.

That could be said of any vehicle really. The only question is 'how cold does it get where you live?' If you live where it gets so cold you're worried about your new NG car starting you've probably already had a block heater in your old car.


I still think LPG/Propane is a better choice for transport. There are 9 million LPG cars worldwide as of 2005. The energy density is much higher than CNG.


Propane is not as clean burning as NG and is harded to make from renewable sources.


I would look into making methanol and DME from the natural gas in pipelines at the fueling station. We can fill natural gas pipelines with renewable methane to be used in many applications. DME can be used in diesel PHEVs and methanol can be used in FFV PHEVs.

Henry Gibson

Single fuel vehicles need to become obsolete. ..HG..

Leonard Kurdziel

"Multiple fuel" vehicles are inefficient, because the weight & package space used by the unused fuel system is just dead weight that may never get used in that vehicle. Multiply the manufacturing costs & weight, the millions of vehicles & miles and you will find it is best to optimize the fuel system design for the vehicle/it's targeted use & fuel available.

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