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2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta – Click above for high-res image gallery

Fiat has the highly regarded Multijet diesel engine among its offerings, and Volkswagen has been spending massive amounts of moolah to soften American hearts toward diesels. Yet in spite of those two factoids, at a recent symposium in Michigan Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne championed compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel he'd like to see take a notable place among the panoply of domestic options.

Last year when Fiat presented its five-year plan, the senior VP of powertrain, Paolo Ferrero, mentioned diesels, hybrids and electric cars as intentions beyond the direct-injected and turbocharged ICE. Earlier this year an electric Fiat 500 was announced for 2012. But the push has apparently already begun to integrate compressed and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles. Fiat's already has the experience and hardware in South America, where its tetrafuel engines run on four different fuels.

Marchionne didn't offer any kind of timetable for the arrival of CNG, saying only that it "is the most effective solution, in terms of costs and timing, to lessen this country's reliance on oil" as well as making it clear that it could be a quicker way for Chrysler to get seriously green. He did admit, though, that the infrastructure is nowhere close to making it viable. We will admit that the idea of an Alfa Giulietta that runs on LPG is an enticing thought. But we'd be even more enticed if Fiat could get even one Giulietta here for retail sale that runs on... well, anything.

[Source: NGV Global]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      We have been down this road before, Diesel would be a better way to go for Chrysler...maybe not cheaper but in the end better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can you explain in more detail why? I've owned both diesel and BiFuel (petrol/LPG) cars and I would definitely go for LPG.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Damn that exterior on the Guilietta is gorgeous! Just send it over as is. However that interior is puke.Correction: They need to replace it with the Alfa 2uettotana concept interior, then send it it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      CNG is clean and CHEAP.
      Bring it on!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, it is cheap. But the energy density is lower than that of gasoline, and the tanks for it are much larger and heavier. So your range goes down significantly and you lose your trunk space in the process.

        Gasoline and diesel are actually pretty darn good fuels for motor vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very intriguing, but very valuable info is about to hit you.
      Where I live (Serbia, but also Italy, Bulgaria, Holland, Belgium, and Poland) LPG is 0.55EUR vs. 1.12 EUR per litre. All taxis are LPG (some CNG but rare), most of the cars that run over 10,ooo km a year or so are equipped with LPG. My estimate around 20% of all cars (incl. myself), further 30% diesel, rest normal petrol only. Difference being that all of LPG cars are either bought or converted within 10 years time frame without any government incentives. % of LPG cars has skyrocketed in recent years in fact, and still rising fast.
      Infrastructure can be set up in no time, fact - not an issue.
      Car runs equally well, either petrol or LPG (a.k.a. autogas where I live)
      Can be fitted to any car, whether old or new.
      Consumption IS cca 15% higher because of energy density, but savings are 35-40% anyway (they would be even higher if the price of LPG werent kept low in an artificial way, by imposing additional tax to make it comparable to petrol, without this artificial addition LPG would be even more competitve - petrol filling stations are money making machines - who wants to loose that?).

      Downside (not for me tho) is that additional LPG tank usually occupies space for the spare wheel (torroidal shape) usually around 40L, so the spare wheel has to go into the boot or elswhere, i.e. boot capacity is reduced. Worth mentioning also:
      a) is that most of taxis have cyllindrically shaped (the other shape normally used) tanks in order to help lazy taxi drivers avoid visiting filling stations too often.

      In short, LPG in a car - a well kept secret.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Same situation in Ukraine. C/LNG popularity skyrocketed in recent decade. Without any encouragement from government or auto-manufacturers. Completely market-driven shift.

        C/LNG move will not happen in the US unless gas prices double.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope other manufacturers follow suit, but it will be a long time before the infrastructure to support it will make this practical.
        • 4 Years Ago
        right, but making the vehicles capable doesn't hurt.

        Somebody correct me, I know I'm going to mess this up, but I believe it's Brazil, that vehicles must be trifuel capable, and I want to say the cost is something like $500 per car.

        Something like that is a good idea, then you could run on gas until the infrastructure is there, and with cars on the road, there's more motivation for those that control infrastructure to get it done.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Running on CNG and LPG now appears to be, in fact, the most cost effective solution, considering the price of the diesel in US and Canada. In my native town Sofia (Bulgaria) in Southern Europe, 100% of the taxis run on LPG, not to mention the others drivers who choose the LPG over the diesel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There's no drama here. Pursuing and developing CNG and LPG technology for use in automobiles is only one in a line of logical steps of finding and utilizing alternative energy sources. I like Sergio Marchionne's forward thinking here. By offering a range of vehicles that can be powered by several sources of fuel you only broaden your market base. Hopefully, Chrysler will be able to capitalize on this opportunity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "But we'd be even more enticed if Fiat could get even one Giulietta here for retail sale that runs on... well, anything"

      Haha. My thoughts exactly. I do like the CNG/LPG idea, but I think it would be easier to make a case for those fuels on a vehicle that is already for sale, and preferably successful, stateside. I know the parking police civics around here in D.C. run on CNG, do they still have those available on the newer models?
      • 4 Years Ago
      That Alfa would be really cool if it had a Hemi. Oh wait..
      • 4 Years Ago
      IMO setting up the infrastructure for LPG would not be as difficult as those for alternatives like hydrogen. There are millions of ICEs running on LPG. Granted its in machines like forklifts and other warehouse/factory machines, but they need to be refueled. They have their fuel tanks swapped out, but the facilities that fill those tanks are plentiful all across the country. It is also not uncommon to find gas stations that have large propane tanks on site. I would imagine it wouldn't be too hard to set up a self-serve LPG pump at locations that have the tanks already.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That car is fugly. They need to send that boy back to Italy. That socialist president we have gave part of chrysler and billions of dollars to fiat. Fiat owns 20% of chrysler yet they run the company. Their contribution will be junky little cars that rank very low in quality. They should have just let chrysler go under. I know people will say he did not give the money to fiat. That he gave it to chrysler. It will end up going to fiat since they control the company. It was just indirectly given to them.
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