Why natural gas cars are better than gasoline and diesel cars

Loading gas: Filling the CNG tank takes a little getting used to. Although there is a standardized system, there are different filling supports

T he worst thing that has happened to me so far with my natural gas car was a short odyssey through half of berlin. The natural gas pump at the shell just around the corner from me was out of service, and I had to look for alternatives. But unfortunately the navi data was outdated.

The salesman at the first gas station from the list on the touchscreen said: "natural gas? We used to have this."the second gas station attendant had a more exciting anecdote: "the other day, a cab driver took the column with him."forgot to take the gun out of the valve on the car and sped off.

The third gas station was completely out of order, at the fourth I was finally successful, and the gas flowed into the pressure tank. The unintentional scavenger hunt for the right type of fuel cost me a good hour.

Annoying, but in the form a unique chain of events in my two-year history as a natural gas driver. It brings up a disadvantage: there are only a few gas stations that offer compressed natural gas (CNG). 920 according to the lobby association erdgas mobil in germany. Just under 15.000 gas stations are available for gasoline and diesel drivers.

Compromises in range

In addition, the maximum range of just over 500 kilometers in gas mode is just over half that of a modern gasoline engine. Natural gas cars perform even worse than diesels, some of which can travel up to 1200 kilometers on a single tank of gas.

this is how much the most environmentally friendly cars allow themselves to drive

10th place: The Citroen C1 in the VTi 68 Stop & Start version with a three-cylinder gasoline engine makes it into the top ten of the 2014 VCD environmental list. Eight other cars also manage this with the same number of points, including the identically constructed Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo. All three require 3.8 liters of fuel according to the standard, which means CO2 emissions of 88 g/km

Rank 9 drops out because two cars share eighth place in the overall ranking across all vehicle classes: the Peugeot 2008, a compact crossover SUV that the manufacturer leads in the variant with a three-cylinder gasoline engine (1.2 Puretech 82 ETG5 Stop&Start) with a consumption of 4.9 liters (CO2 emissions: 114 g/km). And the

. Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which requires 3.3 liters of gasoline according to the standard (CO2 emissions: 77 g/km)

Some manufacturers compensate for the lower operating range by making their natural gas cars bivalent. You also get a large gasoline tank. The VW golf TGI only requires a pit stop after a maximum of 1360 kilometers, and it uses gasoline for more than 940 kilometers. At least it can use this as an advantage when it’s time to go on vacation: in Italy, natural gas filling stations are still quite common, but as soon as it’s time to go to France, things start to look bad.

Monovalent or quasi-monovalent natural gas vehicles are the more logical solution, not only from a technical but also from an economic point of view. you have no or only a very small additional tank of conventional fuel to fall back on.

My car is also a convincing performer: in gasoline mode, consumption is higher anyway due to the engine technology, and the eleven-liter tank volume only helps for about 120 kilometers. But otherwise the car forces me into natural gas operation, and that’s a good thing.

Unbeatably low operating costs

Because this type of drive has an unbeatable advantage over other fuels: far lower operating costs. With low CO2 emissions and small displacements, they are on a par with modern gasoline engines and well below diesels in terms of tax. For example, the VW passat as a natural gas car costs 42 euros a year, the opel zafira 70 euros. In some cases, however, this is offset by higher insurance premiums.

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The huge savings potential lies in the fuel, but this is hardly known, since CNG is displayed at the gas pump in kilograms, which makes comparison difficult. 1.10 euros per kilo is hardly meaningful, and in view of diesel prices that are currently around 1.20 euros per liter on average in Germany, the switch to CNG hardly seems worthwhile.

But if you use the slide rule, you quickly become smarter. The only thing you need to know is that the energy content of one kilo of natural gas is roughly equivalent to that of 1.3 liters of diesel and 1.5 liters of gasoline. One kilogram of CNG has an energy content almost 50 percent higher than a liter of gasoline – 13.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) compared to 8.6 kWh. One liter of diesel comes to 9.9 kwh. Liquid LPG performs worse with 6.8 kWh/l, but also costs less at less than one euro.

3.5 euros per 100 kilometers are possible

Due to the current very low crude oil prices, the situation has shifted to the disadvantage of natural gas, which is largely independent of the barrel. But if you drive a skoda citigo G-TEC, for example, at a CNG price of 1.10 euros and a consumption of 2.9 kilograms, you pay 3.19 euros per 100 kilometers; the comparable gasoline car costs 5.90 euros (at 1.31 euros per liter, the current national average for E10).

In the case of the somewhat old VW touran, comparable models cost around 5.20 euros compared with 8.90 euros, although the price difference between CNG and diesel is currently not quite so great: for 6.40 euros, the 140-horsepower compression-ignition vehicle needs around 5.20 euros per 100 kilometers. But as soon as crude oil becomes more expensive again, CNG will once again fully exploit its price advantage.

the rule of thumb used by the erdgas mobil association before the collapse in the price of crude oil should soon apply again: "compared with diesel, savings of around 30 percent can be made. Compared to gasoline, natural gas costs only half as much on average."the advantage over autogas LPG, which is a by-product of petroleum production, remains unchanged at 20 percent.

However, if you buy a new car, you have to pay in advance. because natural gas cars are more expensive than gasoline cars. For example the seat leon TGI costs new 21.110 euro, the comparable ottovariant 3000 euro less, but sometimes the difference is only 1500 euro. With a common mileage, the surcharge is then amortized after a few years. Frequent drivers drive faster into the profit zone, and in comparison to the also more expensive diesels, there is often nothing to amortize. the diesel-leon costs even 790 euro more than the pressure tank version.

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