The Truth About Cars » LPG The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:51:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » LPG Ford’s Transit Taxi To Connect Passengers Worldwide Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:00:14 +0000 Ford-Transit-Connect-Hong-Kong-Main-ArtWith a few successes under Ford’s strap with the American buckle, the Blue Oval made be known its aspirations to go for the world championship belt in ferrying drunk revelers and harried air travelers with their Transit Connect Taxi in its debut in Hong Kong.

“Ford Transit Connect Taxi has proven itself in taxi fleets across the U.S.,” said Ford’s head of global product development Raj Nair in a statement. “Now, we are building on that success, offering the vehicle for sale in even more markets, including global cities like Hong Kong.” The taxi, set to go on sale in 2014 globally, will run off of Hong Kong’s liquefied petroleum gas infrastructure, an option that has been available since 2010 in the U.S. domestic market alongside compressed natural gas and gasoline.

Under the hood, a 2.5-liter engine attached to a six-speed automatic will keep things moving smoothly, or as smooth as driving (or riding in) a taxi can be, at least. The new taxi is longer than the previous domestic-only models, with seating for up to five and more room for the myriad of baggage travelers will be dragging tiredly behind them. The taxi is also shorter for more clearance for strip club adverts on the roof, with a lower floor allowing for easier access, especially if converted for wheelchair use.

In exchange for spreading the love of the Transit Connect Taxi around the world, Ford has plans to bring the Transit Connect Wagon from Europe to the United States for the 2014 model year. The people carrier holds seven, and sips down a gallon of fuel every 30 miles on the highway. Ford truck communications manager Mike Levine has high hopes for the newest addition to the family:

We believe there’s an opportunity. The Transit Connect Wagon is virtually the same size as seven-passenger minvans were when they were introduced in the 1980s. Since then, they’ve gotten too big, too expensive and consume too much fuel.

The Transit Connect Taxi currently serves markets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, with the Blue Oval owning 60 percent of the taxi market. Ford offers the C-MAX Hybrid for taxi service, as well.

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Ford F-150 Now Available With CNG/LPG Prep Package, Most Ford Trucks Now Cooking With Gas Fri, 02 Aug 2013 11:00:16 +0000 ford-f-150-cng

Starting with the 2014 model year, for the first time Ford will be offering F-150 buyers the option of running on compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas in addition to gasoline. Automotive News reports that interested can spec a F-150 with the 3.7 liter V6 engine, and then receive a factory-installed CNG/LPG prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. The actual conversions would be done by six CNG/LPG conversion companies that have been certified by Ford as “qualified vehicle modifiers”. As long as the conversion is done by one of those six firms, Ford will honor all factory warranties on the engine. Depending on the size of the fuel tank that’s installed, the cost of the conversions will be between $8,000 and $11,000 a vehicle, but running on gas can be significantly cheaper than running on gasoline or diesel, and the cost of the conversion can be more than paid back over the life of the vehicle.

A gallon of CNG is currently averaging $2.06 in the U.S. Ford projects that it will sell 25% more CNG/LPG prepared vehicles this year than last, more than 15,000 trucks. Since the F-150 pickup is Ford’s biggest selling vehicle in general, 2014 will likely see a significant increase as well. Ford now offers nearly all of its commercial vehicles with the CNG/LPG prep package, including the Transit Connect, the upcoming Transit full size vans, E-series ‘Econoline’ vans, F-series Super Duty trucks & chassis cabs in both F-350 and F-550 sizes, the F-650 medium duty truck and now the F-150.

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Ask An Engineer: Natural Gas For Dummies Wed, 27 Jun 2012 15:49:48 +0000

Westport Innovations has just signed a second deal with General Motors to produce light duty natural gas engines, and it’s probably not the last time we’ll be seeing these kind of partnerships forming. Natural gas vehicles have been explored previously on TTAC, but the technology hasn’t been fully explored in-depth, aside from some well-informed comments in various articles.

As a fuel for vehicles (light duty as well as commercial vehicles), natural gas has a number of attributes which fit well with our current political narratives and economic realities

  1. Natural gas is 30-50% cheaper than diesel per unit of energy
  2. Abundant domestic supply
  3. Environmental benefits (lower GHG and tailpipe emissions)
  4. Significant reduction in CO2, CO, UHC, NOx, SOx and PM emissions versus conventional gasoline and diesel engines.

Natural gas can be used across the full spectrum of spark ignition (gasoline type) and compression ignition (diesel type) engines with the appropriate enabling technologies. While spark ignition natural gas engines have been available for quite some time (such as the NG powered Honda Civic), compression ignition natural gas engines have required further development. The difficulty is that while natural gas burns cleanly, it is less likely to auto-ignite (octane rating of 120-130), unlike diesel, which has a lower octane number. This quality of natural gas is advantageous for a spark ignition engine as it prevents detonation and allows for higher compression ratios, but makes it detrimental for a compression ignition engine.

Westport has devised a dual-fuel direct injection system to enable natural gas substitution in a compression ignition engine. The fuel injector at the heart of this system is able to inject both liquid diesel and gaseous natural gas in precisely metered quantities directly into the cylinder. In this system, the diesel fuel ignites as a result of compression as it would in a regular diesel engine. The combusting diesel fuel initiates the natural gas combustion. 93-95% diesel substitution is achievable according to public documentation. This innovation is directed at the heavy-duty diesel market which includes everything from transport trucks to locomotives.

One of the main criticisms is the lack of infrastructure surrounding natural gas. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is easier to store and transport than liquefied natural gas (LNG) so it is the optimal choice for light duty applications. LNG has a greater volumetric energy density but is more expensive to store, transport and ultimately use in a vehicle as it must be kept cold and pressurized to remain a liquid.

Vehicles like the Civic Natural Gas have a reduced range relative to a gasoline Civic, but commercial vehicles, like transport trucks, are emerging as one of the prime candidates for natural gas engines. Large transport trucks are a significant contributor to green house gas emissions and are on the road enough to make the conversion cost effective – though LNG, rather than CNG, would be the fuel of choice. A relatively small number of LNG filling stations placed along major transport corridors could meet their fueling needs and present a great way to thoroughly evaluate the technology. Less complex CNG stations could be added if the decision was made to target light duty vehicles.

Going “all in” on CNG/LNG is a little premature at this point, but the adoption of natural gas as a transport fuel is a good first step in reducing our emissions while other alternative technologies reach maturity. More in-depth discussion is always welcome in the comments.

“Ask an Engineer” is hosted by Andrew Bell, a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast. Andrew has his MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has worked on Formula SAE teams, as well as alternative fuel technologies in Denmark and Canada. Andrew’s column will explore engineering topics in the most accessible manner possible.

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Low Natural Gas Prices Aren’t Spurring Demand For NGVs Mon, 02 Apr 2012 16:42:57 +0000

Even with gasoline prices reaching higher and higher, and natural gas prices at decade lows, consumers are doing as little as possible to adopt natural gas vehicles. As investment blog Seeking Alpha found out, the answer isn’t so complex.

The issue is of course, a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Looking at fleet customers as an example, a firm called PLS Logistics published a white paper on natural gas vehicles (specifically, LNG, or liquefied natural gas, commonly used in commercial applications like trucking). The biggest stumbling block by far was the lack of infrastructure available for fueling NGVs. Even in the face of substantial awareness about NGVs, as well as optimism that they will be adopted in the future in some capacity, literally no one is planning on purchasing NGVs in the next 12 months.

One interesting takeaway is that a quarter of respondents thought that there was zero price difference between diesel and natural gas. Natural gas is about $1.50 per diesel equivalent gallon (the unit used by PLS to measure an equivalent quantity of natural gas). Good news for NGVs comes in the form of a GE-backed project to build 250 filling stations for both CNG and LNG fuels - though as Seeking Alpha notes, demand for NGVs may be affected as much by low natural gas prices as high gasoline prices.

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Chevy Beats The Gas Prices Blues In India With LPG, EV City Car Mon, 27 Jun 2011 21:21:57 +0000

Speaking of GM’s future lineup, there’s no sign in GMI’s 2013 projected lineup of the on-again-off-again Spark city car (A-Segment) that we had heard would be here now. Hell, they’ve had the cupholders ready since 2009. So what’s the Spark up to?

It’s already on sale in much of the world, but in India (where the model is known as the Beat) it’s working on improving its fuel economy beyond even its 1.2 liter gas-sipper’s already-impressive frugality. And reflecting the numerous options available for reducing gas consumption, The Hindu Business Line reports GM has built an (in-house) electric version (currently for testing only) as well as a 56 MPG (non-EPA) diesel version and a Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) version. Which explains why GM’s Mark Reuss answered very carefully when asked by the WSJ [sub] if it were possible for GM to meet the rumored 56.2 MPG CAFE standard, saying

These are tough goals; we have to evaluate this. It’s how you get there with cars and trucks [that] consumers want to buy.

Apparently 12 seconds to 60 MPH and a 100 MPH top speed is not Mr Reuss’s version of a “car that consumers want to buy.” At least at current gas prices anyway…

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Are Europe’s Diesel Days Drawing To A Close? Thu, 18 Feb 2010 16:11:34 +0000

Diesel drivetrains have long been a crucial component to the European market’s forbidden-fruit appeal for American enthusiasts, ranking right up with station wagons and manual transmissions on the list of under-offered features in the American market. But there are signs now that Europe’s longtime infatuation with oil-burners might be drawing to a close (and not just for biodiesel). The Telegraph reports that Europe-wide diesel market share has fallen from 52 percent to 46 percent in the last 12 months, with the UK’s share dropping from about 43 percent to about 41 percent. Much of this trend is being driven by growth in the low-cost car segment, where the higher cost of diesels make them less competitive. Fears of higher repair costs for more complicated clean-diesel drivetrains and a relative undersupply of diesel fuel aren’t helping either. And just as diesel is faltering in its most important consumer market, the EU is eying a tax increase that Reuters UK says “could boost demand for gasoline at the expense of diesel.”

The EU identifies the same global reductions in gasoline demand (particularly in the US, where ethanol mandates are credited with reducing consumption) without a corresponding drop in diesel demand as its motivation for adjusting its tax scheme to favor gasoline. The current tax structure favors diesel, and an adjustment could interrupt refiners’ efforts to invest in diesel refining capacity.

But another gasoline alternative is gaining attention as Europe deals with a changing energy environment: natural gas, in both liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) forms. Germany already subsidizes LPG at the pump, while other countries like Italy offer consumer credits on LPG- and CNG-powered cars. With North Sea oil reserves tapping out, rich supplies of natural gas from Norway and Russia could eat away at both diesel and gasoline market share in the future. But in any case, EU commissioners see any changes in diesel, gasoline and natural gas tax structures as a “mid-term” solution, and a “bridge” to eventual “decarbonisation of transport.”

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Hong Kong Battles Strange Ghosts In A Bottle Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:07:43 +0000

While the world is trying to come to grips with pedal-gate, tiny Hong Kong is attempting an exorcism of its own gremlins: 18,000 (mostly Toyota Crown) taxis and 2,000 minibuses are propelled by LPG, liquefied petroleum gas. The gas is lugged around in a large tank housed in the trunk of the taxis, much to the chagrin of suitcase-schlepping tourists. The real problem is: The LPG mobiles are breaking down in wholesale fashion, China Daily reports. Hundreds a month.

The Hong Kong government set up a special task force to investigate. Nobody is blaming Toyota – this time.

Enraged taxi drivers point fingers at Sinopec, the mostly state-owned Chinese energy giant, which owns seven of the 12 dedicated LPG stations in Hong Kong. The drivers say, the Chinese gas is contaminated. The drivers boycotted Sinopec. The rivaling stations promptly ran out of gas.

Sinopec did react no different than car companies that are faced with unexplained ghosts. Sinopec pointed their fingers right back at the drivers and said they don’t maintain their vehicles properly.

Sinopec did their own testing of the gas, and found no problems. In the meantime, the Hong Kong government took samples and sent them to an independent laboratory in Germany for testing. Final results will be announced next week.

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