A report in the Financial Times says that in Iran in 2006 there were 1,500 dual-fuel cars – those that can run on gasoline and on natural gas. In only seven years that number has climbed to 2.95 million. To serve them, where there were once just 60 refilling stations there are now 2,500. The switch to the alternative fuel has well publicized causes, namely the oil and financial sanctions enacted against Iran due to its nuclear research programs.

The sanctions have driven down government revenue – a recent report says government income is down by 45 percent in the last nine months due to reduced oil exports, which the Iranian government immediately refuted – as well as the value of the local currency, the rial, making it more expensive to purchase gasoline. The FT article quoted one Iranian saying that whereas 20 liters of fuel cost him $10.80, filling his tank twice a day with natural gas only cost a total of $6.50.

The move to natural gas isn't exactly new, with a program put in place a decade ago to bolster its use. Five years ago the program was given an additional $3 billion to accelerate the transition, the same year that another round of sanctions was approved by the United Nations. The move away from petrol use helps keep consumption down, staving off a full-blown gasoline emergency – Iran has huge oil and natural gas reserves, but it needs to keep gasoline demand in line with its domestic processing capacity since the sanctions also cover the importation of petrol.

With Iran seemingly committed to enduring the current sanctions and the potential of more, the FT piece figures natural gas will continue to play an important role in Iran's economy. That might be expected even if sanctions were to go away: Iran's fuel shift means that the country of 80 million now has more natural-gas-powered cars than any other country in the world, topping natural gas powerhouse Brazil and population powerhouse India.


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  • 59 Comments
      Jarod Forney
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a great thing i tell you what.
      alistair.dillingham
      • 1 Year Ago
      Makes huge sense for them to invest in Nat gas cars, they own the second largest (after Russia) Nat Gas reserves in the world, and sanctions make it difficult to export them, so they need to find ways to use them domestically. A few years ago they used leaded gasoline in Tehran, maybe they still do, and the pollution was terrible. Nat Gas cars will go a very long way to reduce it, or at least slow it down.
        alistair.dillingham
        • 1 Year Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        As for the USA, it makes sense to use nat gas in vehicles that consume a LOT of fuel (ie, NOT private autos but 18 wheelers, for example) AND have the space to put the CNG tanks. The only sedan CNG, the tiny Civic, loses half of its small trunk to install the stupid CNGcylinder, and costs much more than the Gas Civic. BUT 18 wheelers have plenty of room for huge CNG tanks, AND will recover the conversion in a few months or years, since they do the same miles in one year than most private car owners do over the 15 or so years Lifetime of their vehicle!
      Brody
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think all alternatives to oil are good to look into , but CNG seems to have the same negatives as a EV, but it is still a fossil fuel. Even in the SF bay area there are not a lot of fast CNG fill stations, so you would have to fill at home, which takes all night and consumes 25 miles of energy just for compression. Range is not that high either.
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are we talking about a rogue and racist nation on Autoblog?
        Carguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        LIke many of these "rogue" countries 95% of the people don't care or don't agree with the politics of their government; they just want to make it another day. Their only misfortune is that they did not have a chance to be born in a country like the US.
        Justin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        you mean the United States?
          Ziv
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          2WM, even if you can't recognize evil in a regime, it doesn't mean it isn't there. I have traveled a bit in Cambodia, and I can safely say that regardless of what happened before the genocide, the Khmer Rouge committed an incredible amount of evil attacks on their own people and were, in fact, themselves evil. The same thing can be said about Hitler or Mao's leadership and the millions that each murdered attest to that fact. And it can also be said, to a slightly lesser extent, regarding North Korea and Iran's leadership. "In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing." Edward Burke. "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality." -- A. Dante
          Ziv
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          Spec, whether you want to call it realpolitik or Machiavellian maneuvering, we can't avoid getting our hands dirty. And supporting the House of Saud is just that. KSR has a stranglehold on the international oil market, and though it is a small evil to support them in any way, it would be a mid-sized evil to try to deal with the world only in a idealistic fashion, when that is not warranted. I think one of the major goals of American politics should be to minimize the evil we are forced to commit and to maximize the good, and one of the ways to do that would be to use natural gas and electricity to power our cars, thereby making our support of thugs like the House of Saud unnecessary. But until cars like the Volt or the Tesla S cost a lot less and constitute a major portion of the American light duty vehicle fleet and our long haul truckers are using natural gas in half of the vehicles on the road, we simply can not do that. Between fracking and EREVs/BEVs, America will be in a much better position to do what it wants to do, instead of what it must do.
          Ziv
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          Justin, if you think that the US is a racist nation, you obviously haven't traveled a good deal. We may not be perfect, but we actually try to keep the racism to a minimum. Go to China, Slovakia, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, etc. and you will see eye opening racism accepted as being the norm. Part of the reason for this is that it is usually the case that it is easier to blame the "other" than ourselves for the problems we encounter in life. And one of the reasons Americans are so well liked abroad is that the majority of Americans that travel today, (obviously most, definitely not all) are RELATIVELY egalitarian.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          [blocked]
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          Tehran ( which is in Iran ) is actually a really nice place in between governmental takeovers and installation of puppet govts, sanctions, and other actions from the USA over the years to keep the oil flowing on our terms. Ahmadinejad's gaffes have been ihghlighted very well by our media but he also frequently comes off sounding more level headed and rational than our leaders. For example - we are worried about his country getting nuclear weapons, while we have tons of them, Israel has tons of them, and we are the only country to have ever deployed one on an enemy. He sees the hilarity of us being fearful of what could come out of a ~70 year old nuclear reactor ( that we build and paid for, by the way ! ) when we have him surrounded already. I guess a fear of WMDs is enough to justify any action, even if it is totally false.
          Ziv
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          2WM, Iran is a great country, with a horrific ruling class. The Iranian people have been dieing while protesting the thugocracy that rules Iran, but that doesn't seem to sink in to people that are too busy hating America to realize that sometimes, America's opponents are simply evil. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world/middleeast/23neda.html?_r=0 There is a reason so many hardworking, well educated Persians live in the US.
          protovici
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          @2WM Yes we have them and if we didnt than I beat we would not be so powerful in al areas. Iran would use those weapons against enemies AND Isreal. I think you need to listen to their speaches to get an idea on what they really want to accomplish.
          protovici
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin
          @Ziv, yulp! I've been to other nations AND wow they dont really like anyone except themselves or better known as racisim! Good comment.
        Adrián Cr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        Rogue and Racists... also Neo-Colonialist country: Israel. See the documentary occupation 101, made by Jews/Americans to show the real Israel.
        Ken
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        Rogue and racist ? Are you badmouthing the U.S. ?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like they're experiencing what we did in the 1970's.. Except, it is our fault this time around for causing it. ( did you know that we funded their nuclear program back in the day? google 'atoms for peace'. long story! ) CNG makes sense. They surely have a lot of it lying around. Their climate and terrain is almost identical to what we have in Utah, minus the valley effects, i think.
      sstuczynsk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Leave it to countries other than the USA to push natural gas cars. We have an abundance of natural gas. Why not push for cars that run on natural gas. But, also require that gas stations, or at least a large percentalge of them, have the ability to store and pump natural gas into the cars. Save a bunch of oil.
        pjcmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sstuczynsk
        We keep saying that over and over again, yet the dummies in DC don't seem to get it! We should have started this back when Carter was President and we had gas issues...we might be there by now. But, we stand by and continue to rely on oil and give our enemies billions of dollars! Doesn't make sense...
      Hello, Brian
      • 1 Year Ago
      The US SHOULD be doing the same. CNG vehicles make a lot of sense for America until batteries are substantially improved, and CNG is being completely ignored. It emits less carbon (both in combustion and transportation). It is abundant here, AND it is somewhat renewable....and yet we are content to sell almost nothing but gas powered cars. What gives?
      jtav2002
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wish CNG vehicles/fill stations were more readily available in the US.
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Iran need to let the Persians become part of the Global Community of Nations. They are being overtaken by countries like Kenya and Egypt due to the long coarts over there.
      Carguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Stepping away from the politics for a minute and looking at the technology here - this article shows one thing. You dont need to spend billions of dollars and fancy technology to convert to CNG or duel fuel. In neighboring Armenia some 70% of cars are now duel fuel conversions and they are not some local made car they are mostly German and foreign imports that the consumers have had converted. if you compare that to here where there is pretty much one CNG car on the market (Civic) and a place like LA has maybe a handful of stations its pretty sad.
        Carma Racing
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carguy
        Keep in mind that in these oil producing countries, natural gas is treated as waste and typically burned off. Not the case here.
          icemilkcoffee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Carma Racing
          Except that at the moment we do have a big glut of natural gas here in the US thanks to new fracking technology.
        Ron Wagner
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carguy
        You can get dual fuel heavy duty pickups from the Big Three also, plus some vans. Ford offers the CNG prepped compact Transit Van. GM and Ford work with conversion Companies. Dodge makes theirs on their own line. See CNG prices.com for a map of service stations.
      Scr
      • 1 Year Ago
      And here we are insisting on the faled and expensive technology of corn squeezins. The US is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. It is somewhat renewable (sewage treatment plants, landflls, composting...etc) and burns clean. And yet...we can't get it. I read somewhere that 80% of gas stations in the US are already on natural gas lines, so runnng nfrastructure is not expensive...and no need to truck it everywhere. Pus, natural gas is CHEAP, and you can fill at home if you can afford a compressor. WTF, US?
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scr
        Natural gas is a good idea, but it isn't as simple as you make it out to be. Liquid natural gas and high pressure natural gas doesn't come out of the gas lines that gas stations use for heating. Nor do these lines have the volume capacity to deliver natural gas to multiple cars all at once. Gas stations would need an additional high pressure tank which would likely have to be above ground for inspection reasons. The compressor you need at would have to be rated in the thousands of PSI to fill a modern natural gas car, where even an expensive home 15 amp/ 110 V compressor are only rated at around 150 PSI, maybe 250 for the oddball compressor.
          Ron Wagner
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          GE and Westinghouse are working on a $500 home pump. Universtiy of Texas and Texas A and M are working on pumps and better CNG cylinders. See CNG prices.com for all the stations on a nice map. There is no excuse to not support this.
          Scr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          You can get a home compressor right now for about $1500 (I looked into getting a surplus CNG Civic for a commuter car...you can fill the tank for about $3!) And yes, a commercial gas station would need a storage tank on-site which it could draw from all day. Most in-ground lines are plenty big enough to handle the load over the course of a day. There would need to be investment, but much less than putting charging stations everywhere and losing money and harming the environment by continuing the Ethanol charade. Notice the big jump in the price of just about all of your groceries? Its because of corn ethanol. People are starving because of corn ethanol.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Are those $500-$1500 dollar compressors for the approx. 3600 psi standard that is typically only good for one or two hundred miles range, or the next generation 10.000 psi tanks that car makers are working on now? How much electricity does it take to compress 100 miles worth of natural gas to 15,000 to 20,000 PSI in a storage tank so it can fill multiple tanks at the same time to 10K psi? There has to be a large pressure differential between the tank being filled and the source tank for the gas transfer rate to be fast. Mercedes uses 20,000 psi tanks for their mobile filling trucks they bring along with their test fleets. I have no problem with using natural gas that is extracted in responsible ways. But you guys are happy pathing natural gas.
        tony
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scr
        Thou would`nt say cheap, but it aint as bad as it was. Also refueling at home avoids them taxes too.
      gosoaring10
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since Iran is trying so hard to complete its nuclear reactor (for "peaceful" purposes of course) might I suggest they invent cars that will operate on nuclear power? They should have an unlimited amount of fuel if they keep on developing their systems. An automobile reactor meltdown might happen from time to time but it's a small price to pay for progress and peace.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gosoaring10
        The 1 Gigawatt nuclear power plant they just brought online at Bushehr is barely enough to keep up with rising residential and commercial demands due to population growth and the adoption of a more western lifestyle.
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gosoaring10
        " I suggest they invent cars that will operate on nuclear power?" Yes. I't's called electricity
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