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CNG: The Clean Little Secret That Detroit and the U.S. Media Want To Ignore


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President
THE AUTO CHANNEL


Originally published May 3, 2009

Several days ago, Italian automaker Fiat issued a rather remarkable video news release in which they extolled the benefits of methane fuel (compressed natural gas). Not only did they proclaim CNG as the most appropriate and readily-available technology for resolving pollution problems in urban areas, but they announced that all of their gasoline-powered models are now also available in CNG versions, with little or no difference in cost to the consumer (in fact, due to tax incentives, the CNG versions may actually cost less in some jurisdictions).

Among the CNG benefits highlighted by Fiat are its lower cost versus gasoline per equivalent gallon, its significantly lower polluting characteristics compared to gasoline, and the safety of driving CNG vehicles. Moreover, CNG’s abundant availability from friendly sources makes the fuel preferable as it does little to support OPEC and their terrorist regimes.

In a country and world struggling to stave off the effects of economic depression and looming environmental devastation*, “There’s absolutely no reason not to (use CNG),” Fiat proclaims.

CLICK HERE to watch the Fiat video

So why then do the American car companies, indeed all car companies building vehicles on U.S. soil (with the minor exception of Honda’s measly 1,100 or so Civic GX units per year) ignore compressed natural gas, particularly since they all have had substantial experience with CNG in outside markets? And why hasn’t the Obama Administration already mandated a national transition to North American-produced CNG as our fuel of choice? Furthermore, why haven’t main-stream media and all major automotive media outlets (with the exception of TheAutoChannel.com) not jumped all over the car companies and the government for their inaction on this matter? Why is CNG the clean little secret that no one wants to accept? Is it necessary to resort to claims of a global oil/gasoline conspiracy against CNG to answer these questions…unless that is the answer? If so, is the silence accomplished with money or physical intimidation?

As chronicled by investigative journalist Edwin Black in his online publication “TheCuttingEdgeNews.com,” Honda (who was until two days ago the major shareholder in FuelMaker Corporation, producer of the in-home CNG fueling system called PHILL) seemed to do everything in its power over the last few months to scuttle the success of the company, including bailing out of a deal to sell the company to billionaire CNG magnate, T. Boone Pickens. In light of receiving no explanation to their actions, one must conclude that the intended result was never to achieve success selling CNG-powered vehicles. Was it, therefore, simply a publicity stunt to make it look like Honda was interested in environmental issues?

Fiat, a major player on the world automotive scene, has not enjoyed top-of-the-mind brand awareness in America since they withdrew the last of their primary brands and models from U.S. soil in the 1990’s. Perhaps this self-induced low profile is the reason why the Fiat CNG story and VNR has not captured the imagination of media executives, let alone the public (who in large part know nothing about it).

However, given the new set of circumstances revolving around Fiat’s deal with the now bankrupt Chrysler (a deal that was in the making since at least January), it would appear that Fiat might end up forcing CNG-powered vehicles on America and our pabulum-puking knee-jerk media, ironically to our own very best interest.

Coincidentally, just a couple of days ago, Honda was successful in unloading FuelMaker Corporation; to an Italian company, no less.

Maybe there’ll be a happy ending to this tale, with Americans driving domestically-built sexy CNG-powered Fiats, and OPEC hoodlums blowing themselves up.


*Some believe that global climatic change is caused by human activities

NOTE: The author does own and drive a CNG-powered vehicle, a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Van.