US carmakers are struggling to reconcile customers’ growing interest in running vehicles on newly abundant natural gas with the logistical challenges of supplying the technology for the still-niche market, according to senior automotive executives.
The interest in compressed natural gas vehicles is the result of a gas glut following the shale oil and gas revolution. New drilling techniques have unlocked vast, previously inaccessible gas supplies in shale rocks.
Normal vehicles can use the plentiful fuel – which produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petrol or diesel fuel – with the addition of large fuel tanks and minor modifications to the engine. Big customers can sign long-term contracts to buy natural gas at low prices.
However, Chrysler, smallest of the big three US carmakers, is offering only one vehicle with a CNG fuel option, while General Motors, largest by sales, is offering only a few models.
Chris Collins, director of advanced power trains for Chrysler, said that Chrysler was confident in CNG’s long-term future as a fuel. While other ma