Vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) aren't quite as exciting as cars that pack a big battery pack, but there's a good chance the gas-burners will play an increasing role in our transportation choice moving forward. Like 1,150,000 big.

Frost & Sullivan has released an analysis that claims that these alternate fuels will sell almost 900,000 units in Europe and almost 250,000 in North America by 2018. The coming CNG/LPG boom is the result of EPA and ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers' Association) regulations that call for lower emissions and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that moving from gasoline to CNG or LPG costs much less than shifting to battery or hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. In North America, the early adopters will mostly be fleets (i.e., UPS) while Europe already has a growing number of CNG and LPG vehicles, with LPG cars – for example the Kia Picanto, pictured, which can run on both LPG and gasoline – being adopted at a much higher rate than CNG vehicles.

The problem, as with all alt-fuels, is that most stations are set up to pump gasoline. Frost & Sullivan says that the "development of enhanced refuelling infrastructure" will be required to make their CNG/LPG sales estimates a reality.
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Prospect of Economies of Cost and Reduced Emissions to Drive Alternate Fuel Vehicles, Says Frost & Sullivan

Alternate Fuel Vehicles Offer Effective Way to Meet ACEA and EPA Regulations for 2020 and beyond

LONDON – 23 May, 2012 – The low cost of conversion and prospect of significant emission reduction will increase the penetration of alternate fuels in Europe and North America. However, the key to sustained growth in the alternate fuel vehicle market will be legislation and the development of enhanced refuelling infrastructure.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.automotive.frost.com), Executive Analysis of the European and North American LPG and CNG Original Equipment Market, finds that the alternate fuel vehicle market is set for close to 900,000 in unit sales in the European market and nearly 250,000 in unit sales in the North American market by 2018.

"The demand for low-cost emission reduction technologies has given a significant boost to the alternate fuel market," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Priyank Aggarwal. "A noticeable trend among upcoming OEMs models is that of chassis architectures and engines being designed to ensure alternate fuel compatibility. This will support easy transition, even as alternate fuel infrastructure improves across Europe and North America."

In North America, initially at least, conversion will suit fleet owners since running costs are a major factor and fleet owners stand to benefit from up to 50 per cent in savings, along with an improvement of over 25 per cent in terms of emission. However, legislative supports remains to be extended, even as related infrastructure lags behind.

The European market has already witnessed a boom in the alternate fuel vehicle industry with Italy and France trading over 300,000 vehicles, annually. Alternate fuels also offer an opportunity for OEMs struggling to meet ACEA targets. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is still expected to lead for the next four to five years, while the compressed natural gas (CNG) network straggles behind in Europe and North America.

The overall market will be driven by OEMs seeking to reduce their fleet emissions and running costs, which are close to half of gasoline prices. However, engine development and the increased cost of conversion will have a direct impact on OEM and customer preference.

"Insufficient infrastructure, high cost of development and ease of adoption of alternate fuel vehicles represent the main obstacles to market development," explains Aggarwal. "Competitive pressure from other alternate powertrain technologies also poses a major threat to the alternate fuel industry."

Promoted as a medium to save costs and reduce emissions, CNG and LPG are linked with certain safety issues in the minds of potential users, making it imperative to increase consumer awareness about safety-related issues. Convincing governments to offer a standardised incentive scheme to ease competitive pressure on alternate fuels, irrespective of the technology, for at least five to ten years, will also support market advancement.

In North America, the alternate fuel market is at a nascent stage. For alternate fuel technology to become popular, OEM interest and product lines will have to increase. The government has to realise the demand for emission reduction and offer long-term incentives. At present, only one product is available in the passenger vehicle segment, once other OEMs decide to introduce their products in this field, consumers may have a wider perspective of the technology.

If you are interested in more information on Frost & Sullivan's study Executive Analysis of the European and North American LPG and CNG Original Equipment Market, please send an e-mail with your contact details to Katja Feick, Corporate Communications, at katja.feick@frost.com.

Executive Analysis of the European and North American LPG and CNG Original Equipment Market is part of the Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Service programme, which also includes research in the following markets: 2010 Europe Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions toward Sustainability, Environment, and Alternative Powertrains - Key Findings on Transmission Technologies, Analysis of European OEMs Powertrain Strategies for Euro 6 Compliance and 2011 Original Equipment Manufacturers Strategies for Passenger Vehicle Engine Downsizing in Western Europe. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.


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