Filling up a CNG-powered RAM pickup truck
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said during the weekend before last at an industry convention in China that it is “most shocking” that the United States auto industry is not throwing its might behind natural gas, which has been found in abundance in its home country.
“A rapid adoption of CNG as a fuel source for automotive applications would almost instantly kill the reliance on foreign oil, and it would bring about a substantial reduction in emissions,” said Marchionne. “Those are opportunities that need to be grabbed and they need to be industrialized. Especially with large vehicles like pickups and large SUVs, we could probably accommodate the installation of CNG tanks within the next 24 to 36 months…”
But though Marchionne’s newsworthy views were offered on the sidelines of the convention in Shanghai, his talk about the paradigm-shifting potential of CNG was not reported. Instead reporters chased down answers to politicized questions as to whether Jeep production would be outsourced to China.
Concerns by reporters focused on whether production priorities would cost jobs in the U.S., or Italy. Both of which Marchionne answered for the umpteenth time with a “no.”
Poor reporting by unscrupulous bloggers has been partially blamed for the rumor that Jeep production would be outsourced from Toledo, Ohio, to China. Actually an original story on Oct. 22 by Bloomberg had the facts straight, but others overstated the purported sell-out to the Chinese story to the point that even Mitt Romney got it wrong…
Romney knew better. He’s just a liar.
But while reporters were chasing the seeds of that false Jeep-to-China report with Marchionne in Shanghai, they missed a true story on his considered views on how to cure U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to curb global warming.
And while he is at it, Marchionne says he doesn’t think ethanol has much future in the U.S. He said alcohol works as a fuel for Brazil where, “from a global standpoint, producing ethanol probably is the most efficient use of their sugarcane.” It was tried in Africa, and it failed. And, said Marchionne, he is “making no comments on the U.S. side of ethanol production which relies on grains.” We take it, Sergio doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
With little local infrastructure or broadcast access to CNG here in Santa Fe, the folks I know with cars running on natural gas have been paying the equivalent of $1.61 per gallon. Nationwide, still less than $2/gallon. That’s enough to get me thinking seriously about our next family vehicle being a factory conversion to natural gas – or something we might do after market.
The reasons are the same for our perpetual consideration of an electric car – or plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt or Ford’s C-Max. 99.9% of our driving is my wife’s work commute and our weekly grocery run plus the usual errands about town. An EV is still too high for us to consider the initial purchase – even though we’re the kind of family that keeps a motor vehicle 12-20 years. The payback is reasonable. The upfront cost is intimidating.
Northern New Mexico is an ideal location for CNG to be added to filling stations. Cripes. We’re a natural gas exporting state. The only handicaps are the usual: politicians stuck in the past, small business owners who can’t or won’t risk the investment. Both of which would be resolved by Feds willing to risk the sort of loans they make to the most undeserving segment of our economy – Big Oil and Big Coal.