26 Years of International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV Global)

As NGV Global commences our 13th Biennial Conference and Exhibition this week, we get perspectives on the history of the association in this item featuring contributions from Dr Garth Harris, Secretary-General from 1986-2008, and past presidents up until 2012.

In the mid 1980’s, those of us in the rapidly expanding New Zealand NGV industry realized that growth would be eventually stifled by issues that could only be solved through international cooperation.  For instance, NZ has no car or truck manufacturing.  Hence it was decided to set up an international NGV association.  Following a certain amount of overseas lobbying and with the support of the NZ Government, IANGV was set up during the course of an NGV conference in Vancouver organized by University of British Colombia.  The Inaugural Council Meeting was held on 8 August 1986.

Present were A Ayers, Australia; M Smith, Canada; H Duban, Denmark; S Salfatti, France; B Bellini, Italy; J Van de Weide, Netherlands; T Bedford, UK; J Seisler, USA; R Tombi, Brazil; D Goldin, Argentina; M Fairgray, NZ; P Moulin, World Bank; G Harris, Interim President, NZ; W R Richards, Interim Secretary General, NZ.  In addition, approximately 50 observers attended.

The association was subsequently incorporated under NZ law and the executive office was set up at my NZ home.

The success of the association over the last 26 years has been largely due to the endeavours, drive and ideas of the various presidents, office bearers and Executive Committee members.  To recognise this anniversary, I invited past presidents to provide a small contribution on their past and current views of IANGV (now NGV Global) and its achievements. These are presented below.

The former presidents of IANGV are:

1986-1988 Bob Cumming, Canada 2002-2004 Ollie Clark, Australia
1988-1990 Wally Parker, USA 2004-2006 Juan Carlos Fracchia, Argentina
1990-1992 Doug Pinnington, Australia 2006-2008 John Lyon, Canada
1992-1994 Carlos Lugones (deceased), Argentina 2008-2010 Rich Kolodziej, USA
1994-1998 Loek Mobers, Netherlands 2010 – Association renamed NGV Global
1998-2002 Jeff Seisler, Europe 2010-2012 Gabriele Gozzi, Italy

Garth Harris
Secretary General IANGV, 1986 – 2008


Bob Cumming, Inaugural President, 1986 – 1988
In the summer of 1986 in Vancouver, I had the honour to emerge from the founding meeting of the IANGV as its first President. Garth Harris and his New Zealand colleagues had done their homework for the meeting, having drafted for discussion a statement of objectives and operating principles. These were adopted, and the meeting adjourned leaving the elected officers looking at one another, some, perfect strangers, in shock.

In the first years, the IANGV played a significant part in fostering communication between member countries to exchange technical and marketing information. It was a learning experience to identify the sources of expertise in the many facets of NGV technology and market development. In the months that followed, members realized that they were experiencing difficulty with similar technical and regulatory issues that presented significant barriers to market growth. This was fertile ground for the IANGV to provide coordinating effort.

In some countries, familiarity with NGV products and infrastructure requirements was limited. It was considered necessary to create a “position paper” to be used as an information source for those in need of a one-stop reference on the features of an NGV operation, the opportunity, product information, status of the technology, and the required infrastructure. Such a document would promote a common denominator of knowledge to facilitate communication on all facets of NGV for all current and potential participants in the sector. The IANGV approved the development of the Position Paper, and John Stevenson undertook to assemble it.

It was apparent that the development of the NGV market and its credibility would be greatly enhanced by the participation of high-profile vehicle manufacturers. To this point, they had shown little interest in the natural gas alternative. The IANGV in 1988 had meetings with management of each of the North American “Big Three” to interest them in the worldwide opportunities for natural gas vehicles. While there were no quantifiable results from the meetings, there were useful exchanges of ideas. The meetings created opportunities for future discussions, and we came away with an appreciation of three different perspectives on alternative fuels by the manufacturers.

Wally Parker, President, 1988 – 1990
I joined the IANGV at its inaugural meeting, and became Vice President.  It was an interesting time for NGV’s as we were just beginning the battle of educating the world on just what an ideal transportation form it was — clean burning, efficient, safe, competitively priced, etc.  It was a tough challenge as the world was very much a liquid fuel oriented transportation culture.  Only a handful of countries, such as Italy, Australia and New Zealand, for example, had made significant inroads in NGV population.

So in those days our efforts were world-wide education on the benefits of NGV’s, trying to convince manufacturers to produce Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) vehicles, trying to convince companies to construct re-fueling stations, trying to convince utilities to get behind this high potential market, etc.  And of course, we were trying to build up the IANGV to include many more members around the world, so we could truly address all the issues as well as present the IANGV as the focal point of international efforts.

It was my privilege to serve the organization as President from 1988 – 1990 during which time we significantly increased the membership ranks both in numbers of members and countries represented.  We had held a very successful biennial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina and had brought our message to many key meetings, such as Italy’s national NGV Conference and many of the American Gas Association meetings.  We worked very diligently with governments to provide support programs, with utilities to develop the market, with OEM’s to build vehicles, with equipment manufacturers to provide conversion kits and maintenance equipment, with suppliers to build refueling stations – both public and private, and we worked on many marketing and public relations programs.  I believe we took the market a giant step forward.  And while today we still struggle with many of the same issues, there seems to be a new resurgence of interest in NGV’s around the world — maybe this time’s the charm!

Doug Pinnington, President, 1990 – 1992
From the mid 1980’s the push for natural gas to be used as a vehicle fuel in Australia was being championed by the Gas Utilities. Some developmental work had been carried out by the Gas & Fuel Corporation of Victoria and Allgas Energy in Queensland into refuelling and conversion kits for cars and trucks.

The leading countries however in NGV technology at that time were New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, the USA and Argentina. The NGV Committee of the Australian Gas Association, made up of members of the major Australian Gas Utilities, contacted the various Gas Associations in these leading countries to gain further insights into how the NGV market was being developed.

The International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV) was set up to promote natural gas as a transport fuel to Government, the automotive industry and the public and as a forum for experts in the field to come together to exchange ideas and for the manufacturers of various components to be able to show their products.

The technology was growing rapidly and some countries had many thousands of natural gas vehicles already on the road. The lack of a widespread refuelling infrastructure was a drawback as was the reluctance of the engine makers to make natural gas engines available in great numbers although a lot of research into all facets of the industry was being carried out in Europe and the USA.

It was significant that in the USA, where large numbers of gas powered vehicles, especially mass transport vehicles, were starting to roll, it was because of mandated  Government directives which threatened to reduce subsidies to mass transit authorities unless a certain percentage of their fleets were running on alternative fuels.

The first IANGV Conference and Exhibition had been held in Sydney and, although the number of delegates and exhibitors was small, it was successful enough for the IANGV Committee to agree that further such events should take place. I feel certain that NGV 2012 in Mexico will be a very successful forum to advance natural gas as a viable transportation fuel in the future.

Loek Mobers, President, 1994-1998
In my term of office as President of the IANGV (1994-1998) the most important change that happened was the reorganization of the different memberships of IANGV and country/regional NGV organizations. Instead of the direct membership of the IANGV, the members were encouraged to become first a country/regional NGV association member. It was agreed that every future country/regional NGV association member automatically became an IANGV member.

The decrease in income of the IANGV was to be compensated by the remittance to the IANGV of a certain percentage of the country/regional association membership income.

This proposal of the reorganization of membership/contribution situation was passed by the IANGV Council members at the Council Meeting in Washington in 1998.

It was a happy event that Rich Kolodziej, President of the biggest NGV Organization in the world at that time (the US NGV Coalition), was the first to give full support for the proposal. Thereafter all the other members followed his example.

This resulted in an end to confusion about NGV membership and gave the IANGV a healthy financial basis for the future.

Jeff Seisler, President, 1998 – 2002
Since the founding meeting of the IANGV in Vancouver in 1986 the global NGV market has made dramatic strides.  Moving from a fledgling retrofit industry based mostly in Italy, New Zealand, and the United States there now are factory-made NGVs and/or sophisticated NGV technologies in 82 countries worldwide.  Whether compressed or liquefied, from fossil or renewable sources, natural gas has proven to be an economical and environmentally friendly fuel for almost any type of vehicle with an internal combustion engine.  The IANGV, today NGV Global, has played a leading role in providing a technical, entrepreneurial, and communications network that has laid a foundation for industry growth and sustainability.

As one of the original founders it has been my pleasure and distinction to serve on the Executive Committee of the IANGV in different capacities from 1990 to 2008, helping to oversee the development of the early market and government relations strategies and, as a Senior VP from 1994 to 1998, to conceive and help implement the reorganization of the association as an umbrella of the regional and national NGV associations.  My vision of a worldwide association infrastructure proposed at the 1992 IANGV conference in Göteborg motivated the creation of the European NGV Association.  During my two terms as IANGV President (1998-2002), I was able to contribute to the founding of the Asia-Pacific and Latin American associations.  The industry’s global strategic and advocacy positioning was in place, ready to create a truly worldwide NGV industry network.

The future of the industry and NGV Global will continue to be enhanced by the association’s biennial conference and exhibition, its ever-improving internet communications tools, its regulatory advocacy at the United Nations, and as a bridge between national and international standards institutions.  NGV Global will continue to be an indispensable force as the leading NGV advocate providing an overarching network for NGV stakeholders worldwide and for the other associations that represent them.

Association members and other stakeholders should use NGV Global as a focal point for strategic vision and leadership to guide the industry into the future so that natural gas (and renewable biogas) can become a true fuel alternative and not just an alternative fuel.

Ollie Clark, President, 2002-2004
The early eighties through to the end of the nineties were defining years for NGV in Australia. Motivated by the successes in neighbouring New Zealand, the Australian Gas Association NGV Committee was morphed into “NGV Australasia” and via the leadership of New Zealanders Garth Harris and John Stevenson, the Australian industry formed strong links with what was to become IANGV. Of historical note is the fact that the very first IANGV Conference and Exhibition in 1988 was held in the brand new, at the time, Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. This was a hugely successful beginning and laid the foundation for the biennial event held around the world since.

I had presided over the Australasian Association for some years and was honoured to be appointed IANGV President for 2002 – 2004 (the second Australian president following Doug Pinnington 1990 – 1992). During that period, interest in NGV grew rapidly on the global scene, many developing nations showing the initiative to take advantage of the economic, environmental and security rewards afforded them by a swing to natural gas.  Other nations embraced the even “greener” option of building an NGV industry based on bio-gas.

Regrettably, having enjoyed considerable success during the early nineties, the Australian energy industry was “restructured” with one result being there was a reduced emphasis on developing gas markets. The Australian Gas Association’s role was diminished and after a decade of world leadership in NGV, especially with regards to urban bus fleets, Australia dropped quickly down the list as other nations continued to grow in terms of NGV acceptance.

Gas reserves in Australia are now enormous and LNG export is becoming a major industry, not least due to the commercialisation of huge coal seam gas reserves in the north eastern regions.  Paradoxically the nation’s oil reserves are almost negligible so logically there will be a move towards NGV in the near future.  There are already signs of recovery in the heavy haulage area where the operators of fleets of so called “B doubles” and “road trains” are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of LNG. “NGVAustralia” was formed a few years ago to accelerate progress.

I believe the work of bodies such as IANGV and the offspring regional Associations will play an important part in guiding Australian and world decision makers towards the inevitability of natural gas as a major transport fuel over the coming decade. It’s ironic that Australian LNG is shipped throughout Asia where an increasing proportion is used for transport while Australia continues to pay circa $A20bn annually for imported oil and oil products!

My years with the IANGV are filled with memories of lasting friendships, technological advances and innovative marketing initiatives by talented people from around the world.  May NGV Global continue to help change the transport energy profile of our world!

Juan Carlos Fracchia, President, 2004 – 2006
IANGV from the beginning has had a key role in promoting the development of NGV across the world.  Encouraged by the late Carlos Lugones, great Past President, fair man and better friend, I attended a GNV Conference for the first time in 1995 in Kuala Lumpur.  I have engaged myself with the Association in different projects ever since, becoming soon after Latin America VP, Senior VP and President from 2004 to 2006.  IANGV has always been fertile ground for exchanging ideas, acquiring experience and I had the privilege of enjoying the friendship of many of its members.

I began my tenure as president of IANGV with the Congress held in Buenos Aires in October 2004, in the preparation for which the event organizers and I invested much time in 2 years of meetings. It was the Congress which lured the largest number of participants, nearly 1200.

The Finances of the association had to be improved, therefore:

–    We created the newsletter, still published today, under the management of Brett Jarman.
–    We developed the Sponsors Program, the revenues of which came close to those of the Biennial Congress.
–    In view of the success achieved in NGV2004, we raised the Association fee by 50 %.
–    The agreement of mutual cooperation with IGU, which started taking shape before the conference, was duly signed.
–    We negotiated with GVR for their central page at no cost to broadcast Association news.

The above mentioned achievements were made possible only with the inestimable collaboration of Garth Harris to whom I thank once more and render a deserved homage.

John Lyon, President 2006 – 2008
My introduction to IANGV was at the Gothenburg conference 20 years ago when NGVs were very new and unknown, with only a few hundred thousand vehicles in use.  NGVs are now recognized worldwide as one of the significant solutions to global warming, energy security, and world economic stability.  This is primarily due to IANGV, working with the Regional Organizations, providing industry leadership to both the private sector and governments.

I feel that my most significant contribution was carrying the NGV story around the world, making presentations to ANGVA in Bangkok, IANGV in Rio, IGU in St. Petersburg, Czech Republic, ISO Round Table in Geneva, IANGV in Cairo, plus many others.  The message I gave 6 years ago was:
The World is addicted to oil, NGV’s are a significant solution:
•    Reduce oil demand 8% by 2020
•    Reduce Greenhouse gases by 25%
•    Improve energy choice flexibility
•    Improve security of energy supply
•    Improves balance of payments
•    Improve world economic stability (dampen oil price)

I projected that the above market attributes should result in 65 million NGVs and a 400 billion cubic feet per year natural gas market demand by 2020, therefore there is tremendous growth potential for the NGV industry participants and the Gas companies.  We are on target to achieve this objective.

The other message I tried to deliver was a clear objective and direction for IANGV which was:
The IANGV industry objective is to grow the NGV market to 65M NGVs by 2020 through:
•    Government lobbying and policy assistance
•    Providing industry information to members and stakeholders
•    Standards development and dissemination
•    Standards harmonization
•    Organizing industry conferences
•    Collecting relevant statistical data
•    Facilitating technical information exchange
•    Marketing and industry awareness activities.

I believe that both of these messages are still appropriate today.

I shall always carry with me the close friendships I made with people from many different countries and cultures, which I value more than anything else.

Lastly, I wish to thank Garth Harris for his dedicated support as the Secretary General of IANGV since its inception in 1986.  He provided tremendous leadership and progress for the industry over his tenure and was a great help to me during my Presidency.

Rich Kolodziej, President 2008 – 2010
Since its formation, IANGV has been a catalyst for collective action for the NGV industry around the world.  When it was formed more than 25 years ago, very few countries had NGV programs – much less NGV associations.  Now, there are over 15 million NGVs globally, with NGV associations in countries around the world.  IANGV (now NGV Global) has had an impact in helping to make that happen.

But, if the world-wide NGV market is to reach 65 million vehicles by 2020 – as John Lyon forecast in 2005 during his presidency – NGV Global’s role will be even more important.  Facilitating communications continues to be critical. Events are moving quickly in the NGV industry all over the world.  Keeping NGV advocates on one continent informed about NGV developments on other continents is a vital service, and NGV Global’s weekly electronic newsletter plays a key role is that communication.  So does the biennial conference.

The lack of consistent NGV codes and standards across borders impedes competition, slows product improvement and keeps costs higher than they need to be.  NGV Global is the only NGV association that speaks for the world-wide NGV industry before the UN, ISO and other global codes and standards organizations.  Homologating standards is a tedious and painstaking process, but it is an important one, and one that NGV Global must continue to embrace.

And there is much more to be done.  NGV Global can’t make the industry grow, but it can help create an environment for it to grow.  That’s what is has done for the past 25 years, and that’s what it will be doing for the next 25 years.

Gabriele Gozzi, Chairperson 2010-2012
NGV Global is committed to meeting the challenges of a rapidly growing NGV market and the industry’s need for a wide-scale perspective. Indeed, following a full-day strategy development session held in Bologna, Italy recently, NGV Global’s Board has identified six key focus areas from which specific initiatives are currently being developed. The focus areas include: Governance and Coordination; Communications; Events, Outreach and Training; Technical Information and Partnerships.

Key considerations for these and the focus areas included meeting the needs of members as well as stakeholders outside of our direct membership who rely heavily on the information and activities of NGV Global and its affiliated and allied regional and national associations.

The NGV Global Board of Directors is currently developing the plan further to identify short and long-term initiatives to meet the industry demands. In the meantime though, a number of short-term objectives have been identified via an internal survey and are already being implemented. Most of these initiatives relate to communications, information and events, and efforts will be made to increase the detail and frequency of information brought to members and non-members alike. A key feature of all the initiatives will be achieving clarity with respect to the roles, responsibilities and areas of influence of the global, regional and national associations.

Thank you for sharing our enthusiasm.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email