“Chrysler Powertrain is actively investigating applications for CNG”, says Marchionne.
Mackinac Island, Lake Huron, in the State of Michigan, provided the venue for Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to call for a united approach to overcoming energy, emission and environmental issues in the US. Addressing the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce on an island that has a ban on almost all vehicles, Marchionne used Fiat’s experience of natural gas vehicle development to illustrate possibilities arising from a cohesive and concerted drive toward adopting this fuel. The following is an extract from his presentation.
“More than 10 years ago, Fiat introduced the ‘Natural Power’ line, through which it established a leadership position in vehicles powered by CNG – Compressed Natural Gas.
“Today, natural gas is a rational alternative to gasoline that can provide a near-term environmental solution on the road to vehicle electrification. CNG is an eco-friendly fuel with up to 25 percent fewer CO2 emissions compared with gasoline. And it is economical for customers with a price advantage of about 25 percent versus gasoline.
“In the United States, there is a substantial domestic supply of CNG – including great potential for natural gas in a Utica shale formation that underlies much of the northern Lower Peninsula. In fact, just last month, energy development companies paid $178 million for mineral rights on state-owned land in 22 Michigan counties.
“CNG technology is readily available without extensive development time or expenditure of resources. Fiat already has a portfolio of CNG engines, both naturally aspirated and turbocharged, and has had some success in growing the CNG business in Italy, where there are some 700 refueling stations nationwide.
“CNG vehicles also are common in South American markets such as Brazil, where Fiat has introduced tetrafuel vehicles that can run on pure gasoline, 100 percent ethanol, a blend of gasoline-ethanol, or CNG.
“Chrysler Powertrain is actively investigating applications for CNG and is exploring solutions that would drive people to the technology.
“The main impediment is a lack of infrastructure that would allow customers to conveniently refuel. This is not an insurmountable problem as a substantial natural gas pipeline infrastructure already is in place. And with a home unit available, many customers could fill up in their own garages overnight.
“But without a shared vision in which government assists industry – for example, with customer incentives and development of infrastructure – then the potential for CNG vehicles in the U.S. will continue to be limited.
Full text available here.
Fiat SpA, which acquired a 20 percent stake in Chrysler last year in return for providing the U.S. automaker with fuel-efficient engines and vehicle platforms, already sells a large range of natural gas-powered vehicles in Europe. (Fiat natural gas models are listed in IANGV’s OEM directory.)