Chrysler could bring natural gas vehicles (NGVs) to the North American market in as little as two and a half years, but Fiat NGVs are unlikely despite their success in Europe, reports Fleets&Fuels (F&F) seeking to clarify earlier media comment on Chrysler’s intentions. Robert (Bob) Lee, Chrysler engine, electrified propulsion, and advance powertrain engineering VP, told F&F there are several criteria to be satisfied first.
The U.S. has different prerequisites for vehicles entering the natural gas market than does Europe, ranging from crash testing to onboard engine diagnostics, so Fiat product adaption is unlikely. The introduction of Chrysler-engineered bi-fuel NGVs is apparently the most likely option.
Chrysler wants more incentives and it wants fueling infrastructure to grow. “We would like to see a bilateral commitment,” Lee says,”between automakers who would manufacture a new generation of NGVs and the energy companies that would fuel them.”
It is watching US fuel prices respond to a turbulent Middle East. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s Short Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook issued 2 weeks ago predicts summer fuels prices of $3.86 for gasoline and $4.09 for diesel, a 39.86% increase and 37.25% respectively over 2010 summer prices (per gallon). The projected increase in gasoline prices suggests that vehicle fueling costs for the average U.S. household will be about $825 higher in 2011 than they were in 2010, according to the EIA.
Lastly, Chrysler is closely watching the progress of the NAT GAS Act which in itself will address some of it’s concerns.