By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
The population at large generally tends to pay attention to what’s placed under their noses. This of course accounts for many election results as well as the popularity of several less than perfect products.
Our media driven world has lately been full of the all-electric or partially electric hybridized vehicles being trotted out by any number of manufacturers. Ask your sister-in-law about cars that reduce gasoline usage and it’s a sure bet you’ll hear some variation on an electric theme.
The OEMs however may be hedging their bets, and you may be confident that electric drive isn’t the only motive force under consideration in Detroit, Stuttgart or Rome. From the “everything old is new again” file comes word that many companies are looking at natural gas (NG or CNG) as a fuel of the future.
A recent news report says that GM entered a development agreement with the Canadian company Westport Innovations to develop a light-duty NG engine “within 18 months.” Honda recently expanded sales of the Civic GX to all 50 states, and FIAT has been very successful with a line of nat-gas vehicles in Italy. Others are jumping in as well – VW now offers a version of the Passat with a turbocharged NG powerplant, and Chrysler is speaking of a five year window to bring their powerplant to fruition.
Governments may aid the developments, too, either through stiff anti-emission regulations (particularly in Europe) or through buyer incentive programs. There is a bill proposed in the U.S. Congress to extend the tax credits offered to “plug-in” buyer to those buying natural gas vehicles as well. Italy’s on-going version of cash for clunkers offers double the rebate if the owner buys a NG vehicle.
Natural gas is available in the U.S with relative ease – it’s piped into many homes and businesses for heating and cooking – and some vehicle refueling infrastructure already exists as well. In Europe, the cost of NG is about half that of petrol. Natural gas burns well in an engine and a vehicle can be set up to run on “bi-fuels” or “dual-fuel”, using either NG or gasoline as the situation warrants.
Since natural gas generates a much cleaner exhaust, it’s not impossible that a two-fuel car could be required to run on NG within city limits and then be allowed to use gasoline on the motorways or Interstates.
The cleaner exhaust also becomes important as many nations move to impose taxes based on CO2 emissions.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.