A principal impediment at present to the growth of the compressed natural gas fueled vehicle (NGFV) fraction of the privately-owned vehicle fleet is the lack of adequate and widespread refueling facilities. Many of the vehicles on the road today could profitably convert to dual fuel operation if refueling facilities existed.
For the longer-term, however, the incentive toward conversion may disappear. The emergence of more fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles, the replacement of needed larger vehicles with diesel-powered units, and the general trend toward pricing fuels on Btu content, all minimize the economic benefit realizable today by operating a converted dual fuel vehicle.
Dedicated vehicles specifically designed to operate on compressed natural gas, which take advantage of the properties of this fuel, can help to alleviate some of the vanishing economic incentives, although the refueling-point availability problem must be solved before such vehicles are competitive in the marketplace.
This paper examines the above factors and estimates the potential market penetration of retrofit and OEM NGFVs.