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Bringing Home the Adoption of Natural Gas Vehicles

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by Scott Levine, The Motley Fool Dec 11th 2013 3:22PM

It's not uncommon to see eyes roll at the mention of alternative fuel vehicles. Perhaps, it's because people relegate these vehicles to a distant future with images of silent highways populated by whizzing electric cars. The reality, however, is that alternative fuel vehicles are becoming increasingly popular among car buyers. For some, it's the financial benefit, for others it's the environmental, and for a small number it's the convenience. But, in the end, it may be the last reason, which is the tipping point in the widespread adoption of, specifically, natural gas powered vehicles.

All of this is not to mention the financial benefits of natural gas over gasoline. A recent report from the Department of Energy addresses the financial benefits of natural gas as a fuel source over gasoline for vehicle owners. According to the report, natural gas is the least expensive fuel for vehicles.

Certainly, this will not be a rapid adoption, as there are only four 2014 natural gas vehicle models. But if the convenience of owning one of these cars is so much greater than other cars, things may change sooner rather than later.

So, if one of the factors inhibiting the widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles is the lack of fueling stations, then the answer seems simple: provide more fueling stations. Although most companies are not jumping at this opportunity, there is one that recognizes the potential.

Several companies are developing at-home fueling stations. In 2012, Eaton Corporation announced that it was developing a home-fueling station. Funded in part by a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Energy, the home fueling station would utilize existing natural gas sources in the home. Eaton is attempting to develop a production prototype that will retail for about one tenth of the cost of currently available systems, which cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Eaton currently offers electric vehicle charging stations for the home, so an entrance into this market will not be unfamiliar ground.



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