Going the CNG way

German auto manufacturers and oil companies show interest in CNG as a result of government policy

Published: Wednesday 31 October 2001

The German government has made a conscious decision to promote compressed natural gas (cng) vehicles. According to Juergen Trittin, the German environment minister, the government will support the use of natural gas vehicles by extending a 75 per cent discount in the mineral oil tax for cng up to 2009. The government will also introduce 1,000 natural gas-driven taxis in Berlin.

With government policy encouraging cng , oil companies like Deutsche BP and automobile manufacturers such as Adam Opel AG have come out in support of the fuel. At the recent International Auto Show in Frankfurt Hans Demant, Opel's managing board member, presented the Zafira cng car. Opel, a unit of General Motors, expects a market volume of 10,000 Zafira cars a year and has provided five vehicles for the government's 1,000 environmental taxis scheme so far.

Opel has calculated the recovery cost of the car at 1.5 years compared to a diesel car of 2.5 years. Other natural gas car models being launched in Germany include VW Golf Variant 2.0 I Erdgas , Mulitpla-Fiat Bipower ELX , Ford Focus-Turnier and the Volvo S8 Bi-Fuel.

German gas suppliers are even offering incentives that include 2,000 kg of free natural gas. Peter Knoedel, vice chairman of Deutsche BP, which has 1,000 petrol stations in Germany, said the firm had 40 projects with gas suppliers underway to provide sites for natural gas tanks.

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