USA outpaces Europe with NG Powered HD truck volume of sales
New VW NGV models likely to stimulate other manufacturers in Europe
Peter Boisen, founding Chairman and now honorary Chairman with a permanent seat on the board of NGVA Europe, comments on the pace of change in the USA and the recent natural gas vehicle developments in Europe, particularly the impetus generated by Volkswagen.
Looking at the flow of NGV news from different countries I am impressed by the large volume of positive news in recent weeks on NGV sales and new filling stations in USA. It seems obvious that some kind of break-through has now been achieved in USA. The only thing still missing is a wide offer of OEM produced state-of-the-art bi-fuel light duty CNG passenger cars (but we have seen very positive statements both from Chrysler and GM). Looking at the volumes sold of NG powered HD trucks USA is now clearly ahead of Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
In Europe it will in 2012 be very interesting to follow sales of Volkswagen up!, Skoda Citigo, and Seat Mii, three new small CNG city cars using the same basic platform. The start-up of production of OEM CNG cars in the Czech Republic (Skoda) and in Spain (Seat) will certainly help to popularize the NGV concept in Eastern Europe and in Spain. These three new products, and the introduction of Audi A3 (2013) and Audi A4 (2014) CNG cars (all from the Volkswagen group) means five new NGV models, and three new NGV brands.
If the new NGV offers from the VW group are successful it will become difficult for other manufacturers (Japanese, Korean, and French), yet without similar products, to refrain from the introduction of NGV offers on the European market. Ford Europe will most likely also feel the pressure to introduce competing offers. Fiat, the clearly leading European producer of LD NGVs, already has a very wide NGV offer, but Opel (GM) may also see a need to expand their NGV product offers.
The recent Westport acquisition of Swedish AFV, with the intent to market the 230 hp Volvo V70 Bi-Fuel CNG cars all across Europe is another interesting development. Up to 200 units are already sold on a monthly basis in Sweden.