Saturday, September 15, 2012

CNG use saved CNG Injun almost $3,000 in one year

Bill Edwards, aka CNG Injun, recently explained his sustainability plan to me:
It has been just over a year since I started driving my 2004 F-150 Bi-Fuel CNG truck. It was obvious to me that I was saving money every time I filled up, boy I sure love to see those $8-$12 fill-ups! I knew that I had saved a lot over this past year, but really wanted to quantify the total value of the savings. 
Doing a quick calculation based on buying CNG for half of the cost of regular gas came up with a savings of $3,452, but knowing that the assumption was not always true, I came up with a better way to do the calculation by exporting my CNG consumption records into MS Excel.
Then I found the historical data for the price of regular gasoline in the Tulsa, OK area at Gas Buddy.  The price of gasoline in Tulsa over the past 18 months varied from $2.92 to $3.75.

As I am not trying to prove I discovered cold fusion, I took the liberty of simplifying the data entry process by using the gasoline price from the graph for every date datapoint. 
After plugging all of the numbers into the spreadsheet, the data of the CNG usage looked like this:

That’s right, the bottom line savings in fuel cost was around $2,880 on an annual basis. If I continue to drive about 22,000 miles each year and assuming that the truck can last 6 more years (up to a total of 172,000 miles on the odometer), I should be able to save a total of $20,160 in fuel costs! That is enough to buy a replacement vehicle twice as nice as this one with the savings! Now that’s what I call a sustainability plan…no capital investment for vehicles from now on, just maintenance and fuel! You got to love that CNG!

Truck bed storage considerations

Now that Dodge, Chevy, and Ford CNG bi-fuel trucks are becoming available again, folks are asking about what kind of truck bed storage options can be used with the CNG tank mounted in the bed.

Safety first.  

Safety code (NFPA 52, Texas Code shown here) require "All pressure relief devices and pressure-carrying components installed within a closed compartment shall be vented to the outside of the vehicle in a suitable location."  This does not apply to CNG components under the truck hood and in the truck bed - until you cover the truck bed with a tonneau cover or a camper shell.

So, if a truck bed storage system is used that closes in the bed, including the CNG tank, then a venting system must be installed first.  Note that the Honda Civic, which has the CNG tank in the trunk, has a venting system installed at the factory.

The second consideration is that most of the truck bed mounted CNG tanks extend above the side of the truck bed sides which makes a tonneau cover nearly impossible.

Weather Guard Truck Drawer

An easy solution I've seen is the use of a WeatherGuard steel storage box with a drawer.  This avoids the whole CNG tank venting issue by leaving the bed open and keeps the contents dry, secure, and easily accessible via the large pullout drawer.  The box can hold up to 425 lb of weight on top of it.    Downside is that it would be difficult to haul a refrigerator in the truck (but that's impossible with a hard shell tonneau cover or camper shell also).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Learn about saving fuel $'s at the Tulsa CNG Summit

I'm honored to participate in the Light Duty Vehicle roundtable discussion in the September 19 Tulsa Clean Cities CNG Summit.  GM, Chrysler, Honda, & two of Ford's Qualified Vehicle Modifiers, Westport & Venchurs will be participating as well.

It's an exciting time for Oklahoma drivers that want to save money on fuel because the automotive industry is now adding fully engineered and serviced vehicles to their offerings.  The market share available in Oklahoma for CNG vehicle manufacturers is enormous due to:

  1. Abundant CNG refueling stations which can be found with CNGNow's iPhone app & website
  2. CNG prices of $1.35 to $1.85 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (same mpg as gasoline)
  3. Oklahoma income tax credit of 50%
  4. ONG's $2,500/$1,500 vehicle rebate
There will be CNG vehicles on display, Governor Fallin's keynote address, Stephen Yborra's "Compelling Case for NGV's", and more.  Register to attend at the CNG Summit webpage and come learn how you can run your fleet on fuel with a $1 "handle".