Assessing the viability of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel for light-duty vehicles in the United States
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Recent optimistic revisions to projections for recoverable natural gas resources in the United States have generated renewed interest in the possibility of greater utilization of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Against a backdrop of significant policy challenges for the United States, including air quality concerns in urban areas, slow economic growth and high unemployment, and a rising unease with regard to an increasing dependence on foreign oil; natural gas offers the nation’s transportation sector an opportunity to reduce mobile emissions, lower fuel costs, create jobs and reduce dependence on imported oil. While the current focus for expanded use of natural gas in the transportation sector emphasizes heavy duty and fleet vehicles, there may also be potential for increased use for passenger vehicles. Inconvenience, with regard to refueling, and high incremental vehicle costs, however, are seen as major obstacles to greater adaptation. This analysis examines the benefits and drawbacks of natural gas vehicles from the passenger vehicle perspective and includes data from a cross-country road trip. The report includes a review of market trends and possible development scenarios and concludes with recommendations to minimize the potential challenges of greater adaptation of natural gas vehicles in the passenger vehicle market.