In the Northern autumn of 2013, GAZ Group, Russia’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, will begin mass production of bi-fuel light commercial vehicles (LCV), running on gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG). At the Gorky Automobile Plant (‘GAZ’), the key plant of the Group, 10 pre-production “GAZelle Business” LCVs were transferred into trial operation by the company. Division Director of light commercial vehicles for GAZ, Mr. Vadim Sorokin, explained that the company will have production capacity of 25 to 30 vehicles per shift.
GAZ, which sees bigger prospects for compressed natural gas (CNG) over LNG as a transport fuel, will gradually increase capacity in response to demand built upon educating Russian vehicle owners of the benefits of natural gas and the development of more widespread infrastructure. In Nizhny Novgorod, where the Group is headquartered, there are only two CNG filling stations at present.
CNG is currently selling at about 40% cost of an equivalent unit of petrol, 47% of diesel and 60% LPG.
The launch was part of a ‘coordination meeting’ on the development of transport to natural gas, chaired by the Deputy Governor, the Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Sergei Kovezin and President of GAZ Group, Bo Andersson. Together with Gazprom and regional authorities representatives, discussion was centered on the development of production vehicles with compressed natural gas, the construction of a gas infrastructure and legal regulation.
“We have formed a working group in which we plan to launch a joint project to translate public transport to more environmentally friendly and economical fuel – methane gas. We have sent an application to the Russian government about the readiness of the region to enter into a pilot project to transfer Nizhny Novgorod trucking company fleet to natural gas. We are talking about more than 250 buses and construction of additional infrastructure to service them. That will form the basis for the development of gas-engine vehicles,” said Sergey Kovezin.
In turn, Bo Andersson said that development of Natural Gas Vehicles required the collaboration of all stakeholders. “Given the high leverage of transportation in Russia, the transition of commercial vehicles to natural gas will be a powerful factor in increasing the competitiveness of the individual businesses and the economy as a whole. That is why GAZ Group examines the gas issue as a priority for development,” he said.
(Source: GAZ Group)