• Jun 8th 2010 at 6:02PM
  • 15
It's no secret that Fiat products are economical. For the third year in a row, Fiat has been recognized as Europe's most environmentally-friendly brand with average CO2 emissions of just 127.8 grams per kilometer. Thus, it really shouldn't come as a surprise that a Fiat product was chosen out of 241 competitors as the most economical in the land. The German Automobilclub (ADAC) carried out testing on fuel-powered vehicles to find out just how far €30 (about $36 U.S. at the current exchange rate) can get you down the road.

The testing covered all types of cars from little two-seaters on up to supercars. In the end, the Fiat Panda Natural Power emerged as the overall winner. The Fiat managed to cover nearly 450 miles on $36 of fuel, which may not sound that remarkable until you consider that gasoline goes for more than $5.50 a gallon in Germany and BMW's X6 ActiveHybrid only managed to cover 106 miles in the same test.

The Fiat doesn't rely on gasoline alone to move on down the road though. All vehicles in Fiat's Natural Power Range utilize a combined natural gas/gasoline system, which undoubtedly makes miles per gallon comparisons difficult. We can say that the 1.2-liter engine can capably propel the $16,830 (U.S) Panda to highway speeds whether under the power of natural gas or gasoline and with 400,000 natural gas-powered vehicles sold in Europe, Fiat leads the continent, indicating that it must be doing something right. Follow the jump to learn more about the inner workings of Fiat's award-winning Panda Natural Power.

[Source: Fiat]


An ADAC test revealed that no car is more economical than the Fiat Panda Natural Power, which travelled 724 km on just €30

The German Automobilclub (ADAC) carried out an original test on 241 cars in various categories with different fuel systems. The aim: to cover as much distance as possible on €30 of fuel. The test was won triumphantly by the Fiat Panda Natural Power, which covered 724 kilometres, equal to the distance between Frankfurt and the North Sea. With the holiday period approaching, this record achieved by the methane-driven Fiat car shows that it is still possible to save when you travel by car.

ADAC carried out the test on almost all known cars - from small two-seaters to sporting supercars - revealing once again that gas-driven cars offer the best savings. But first of all was the Panda from the Natural Power range, a dual-fuel (methane/petrol) product range made up of 14 Fiat cars and commercial vehicle models able to meet the mobility needs of a huge band of customers. It should be remembered that with nearly 400,000 units sold to date, Fiat leads the field in Europe for vehicles with factory-fitted methane systems (OEM). Due to the extraordinary growth of methane, the most eco-friendly and economical fuel currently on sale, Fiat has been the most environmentally-friendly of the top-selling 10 car brands in Europe for the third year running, with an average CO2 emission level of 127.8 g/km, compared to the market average of 145.8 g/km (analyses carried out by the independent institution Jato Dynamics).

Two separate methane tanks have been incorporated in the floorpan of the Fiat Panda Natural Power using an under-chassis installation method that is unique in the world, to offer a total capacity of 72 litres (12 kg), thus maintaining the roominess of the original car as far as both passenger space and luggage space are concerned (with a single or split rear seat, luggage compartment capacity increases from 190 to 840 dm3, measured up to the ceiling). The petrol tank capacity (30 litres) offers a back-up for peace of mind even in areas where methane filling stations are thin on the ground.

The Fiat Panda Natural Power may be economical, but this does not limit its speed: the 1.2 8V Bipower propels the car up to 140 km/h when running on natural gas (148 km/h when petrol is used). Last but not least, when natural gas is used, the Fiat Panda Panda achieves a CO2 emission level of just 113/g/km. An innovative, eco-friendly and economical car: the Fiat Panda Natural Power is on sale in Italy from EUR 14,050 (on the road price).

Turin, 4 June 2010

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      In this test the price of the fuel mattered more than the efficiency of the vehicle.
      I bet a prius converted to use natural gas would have easily beat this fiat.

      An electric vehicle could probably do over 1000 miles on $30 worth of fuel but the German Automobilclub loves combustion engines.
        • 5 Years Ago
        German electric rates are around $0.30kwh........
        The wonders of renewables!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Natural gas is always cheaper, around half the price. The car likely varies the proportion of natural gas and petrol continuously, like more modern propane vehicles do.

      And yes, having TWO fuel tanks is awesome. The modification is worth it just for the extended range.
        • 5 Years Ago
        When you use NG in your car one thing that is going on to save you some $ is that you aren't paying the road taxes charged on gasoline.

        Another thing to point out is NG gets about 10-15% less MPG than gas and 10-15% less HP out of the motor, but it runs a LOT cleaner so you need to do less maintenance (specifically engine oil doesn't get dirty nearly as quickly).

        Also, NG running cleaner supposedly there is some issue with wearing out valves faster, not sure bout the specifics of how that happens.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You don't burn both at once. Dual fuel cars have two tanks, so that if you can't find a NG pump you are not stuck as petrol is everywhere.
        This means that as long as you have a natural gas pump near where you live it is practical - you use gas when you can, petrol when you must, so the petrol operates as a range extender.
        This one will have been full of both NG and petrol. You flip a switch to change from one to the other.
        NG is usually around half the price of petrol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Natural gas and propane run hotter than petrol, so valve seats that have not been hardened or have not been properly hardened will recess over time, as the heat causes the valves to literally weld to their seats every time they touch.

        Do note... with modern unleaded gas and ethanol-enriched fuels, these valve seats will recess anyway, so it's not a problem limited to CNG and LPG... it just happens faster with them.

        This is why some propane systems run both fuels at once (in varying proportions), to preserve the valves. There will also be a miniscule amount of petrol fired into the engine occassionally to keep the petrol injectors from gumming up.

        Of course, since this vehicle is factory-built, it likely has hardened valves already.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I completely don't understand this story.

      Does the car burn either/or, or does it burn a mixture?
      Was it powered by regular petrol for the test or by 30 Euros worth of natural gas?

      How does the cost of natural gas compare to the cost of petrol where the test was done if it was done using natural gas?

      This is like having a conversation with my mother.
      Don't get me wrong.
      I love my mother...
      But oh man...
      Come one....

      I mean, are there any basic facts available for this story?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The car is one of FIAT's dual fuel cars which you can refuel with natural gas or with gasoline or with both. You will alway take natural gas only as that is the cheapest. If you stop at a gas station wich does not carry natural gas you will take gasoline instead. If you stop at a gas station which has natural gas and gasoline you may also consider refilling both separate tanks to extend the range. The cars electronics will automatically adjust between natural gas or gasoline supply depending on what is available and what is more efficient at any given time. The test was conducted with natural gas only.
      • 5 Years Ago
      About $17k or so for this car rather gives the lie to the idea that greatly more economical cars have to cost a fortune, as another article here seeks to argue!
      Mind you, the US has not got much natural gas, so it is not surprising that the US automakers are reluctant to build dual fuel!
      Not much sign of the 400,000 or so gas tanks exploding, either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        EV, the range of natural gas vehicles is less than petrol, as the tanks are relatively bulky.
        Per mile most places in the US the cost is around half that of using petrol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No way, the USA and Russia have the world's largest supplies of NGV!

        CNG is not well supported out here though. I have no clue why. It costs 1/2 the price to fill up a CNG car here.

        I think the main problem is that gas is not expensive, so people rarely look for alternatives.

        I mean, i make about $1400 a month over here and spend maybe $20/month on fuel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't get it? The car used up all the 72 liters or 12kg of NG and then switched to petrol and burnt 30 liters of that? 450 miles, uh. I have natural gas. Wonder how much a kg costs? Any thing to get away from those oil corps. Oh yeah they own 50% or more of the NG in this country. Curses!

        Lets see, calculating the mpg on this car appears to be futile. OR The miles per kg. Can't do the math, the numbers are to strong. Lost all will to do the math, the numbers beat me. : -/ Dying.. Dead!!! Gone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        In Portugal, zero accidents since 1996, and GPL (automotive-grade natural gas) is quite common (15% of gas cars).
        It does beg the question: "why then is Portugal one of the few countries that requires you to have a huge bumper sticker saying GPL, and forbids underground parking of these"

        I strongly suspect I'm not seeing those bumper stickers on a lot of GPL-powered cars... good for them.
        • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have seen a video on Youtube comparing a Land Rover and the new Fiat Panda. I was impressed by the performance of the Fiat new car. Also, the price is very good, it is a lot cheaper than buying a Land Rover.
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