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GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car

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On: Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 9:29PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car

As green technology continues to grow and evolve there is much controversy about potential negative effects of natural gas on the environment; natural gas may be even worse for the planet than coal. In fact, using natural gas rather than diesel in vehicles could actually increase climate change, according to Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University. "You're aggravating global warming more if you switch," he says.

Although preliminary studies may suggest that natural gas could contribute far more to global warming than previously thought, it looks as though Congress may be asking for support of a bill that would replace diesel with natural gas in heavy vehicles. General Motors is on board.

Natural gas is available in abundance, and can offer a solution to the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. With the future of green technology possibly moving in the direction of natural gas, General Motors has announced the finalization of the all new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered van named the Chevrolet “Express,” as well as a full-size van called the “Savana” for GM’s fleet consumers to have the option of a CNG fuel system.  

GM announced that in May that it would be the first and only automaker to offer a natural gas-powered commercial van. “Our focus from the beginning has been to offer fleet customers a simple ‘check the box’ approach with our CNG Chevrolet Express and Savana vans,” said Brian Small, general manager, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “Our robust production process is a key enabler and certainly separates us from any competitive offering.”

GM says the vans will all meet (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission certification requirements, although there are arguments regarding whether or not natural gas is is substantially cleaner than diesel. Some environmentalists are saying that the reports stating resulting in the emission of about 25 percent less greenhouse gas are false, but for now, GM plans to capitalize on the 25% less emissions.

The Vortec 6.0L V8 engine will be utilized in the Savana. GM engineers modified the vehicle to improve wear and durability. The engines will then be put into the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans at GM’s Wentzville, Missouri plant. GM has selected an alternative fuel conservation company, Productive Concepts (PCI), to be part of the production team for the Chevrolet Savana and Express to integrate the CNG fuel system with the Vortec at its facility in Union City, Indiana.
Once the CNG system is integrated into the vans, they can be shipped to specialty vehicle manufacturers to have commercial equipment added, or directly to GM dealers. The Savana is projected to be available in the fall of 2010, so while the jury is still out on the safety of natural gas, it seems that final emissions testing and evaluation of enviromental effects of natural gas vehicles can be conducted on real life automobiles on the road.




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