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Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

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  • Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

    I recently started researching CNG conversion on the East Coast. In New York area, CNG stations are few and far between. A publicly accessible station quoted the price of $2.46 per GGE, which I posted on the cngprices website. Considering gasoline is available for $2.90 (or thereabouts) in the New Jersey area where I work, and given the cost of non-EPA certified conversion of at least $6,000 - $7,000 (with EPA certified conversion running between $10,000 and $12,000, is it economically worthwhile converting to CNG? Is CNG only for CA and the midwest where CNG prices are far lower? Or did I miss something in my assessment? Please chime in.

  • #2
    Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

    Keep checking this forum and others to learn what options are out there.
    I would pass on any "conversion" process of a straight gasoline vehicle, as it is expen$ive, likely exceeds any payback, and usually costs more than the base value of the vehicle.
    I got hooked on used FACTORY BUILT Bi-Fuel vehicles - nothing to convert. (One can also find straight CNG ones). No mega bucks to fork out, they are plug and play ready to go. As with any used vehicle, you will need to carefully look it over if considering to buy. Also, be sure there is a CNG technician somewhere for when you may need service or help - not to mention CNG availability.
    Again, watch this and other sites for postings of ones for sale, and also e-Bay.
    '13 Chev Silverado 2500 Ext Cab Factory Bi-Fuel
    '08 Green Tea Metallic GX
    FMQ-2-36 Fueler

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    • #3
      Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

      I would definitely look into the option of buying a vehicle that's CNG ready, either in a dedicated, or in your case, duel-fuel. That may be preferrable if stations are as scarce as you indicate.

      As far as gas prices compared to gasoline prices... take the long view. Gasoline may be relatively close in price now but what about next summer, or the summer after that. We sit on a razors edge where oil prices are concerned. One incident could send oil prices soaring over $100 a bbl, and gasoline prices with it. Since natural gas is a domestic fuel and unrelated to the fluctuations in oil prices, you may find that a cng capable car is worth it's weight in gold. You could get a used duel-fuel car for far less than the price of a conversion.

      Take the long view and you may find the answers you are looking for.
      [ATTACH=CONFIG]temp_4586_1441434431016_578[/ATTACH]

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      • #4
        Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

        Thanks for your replies. Looks like buying a pre-converted or factory made car might be the way to go. Does anyone know if Honda is planning to come out with a bi-fuel vehicle (gasoline/CNG)? Bi-fuel is important in NY/NJ area as there aren't many CNG stations.

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        • #5
          Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

          Honda won't be coming out with any dual-fuel vehicles (ever), or other models than the GX in the forseeable future. I base this on my conversations with the Alt Fuels Division at Honda Corporate. I have a suspicion that you may see some Honda oriented conversions for other models in the future though.
          Which models would you want to see converted?

          The question for you is "are there stations available in the area's you need to drive most frequently?" There don't have to be stations on every corner for the vehicle to be practical for you. If most of your normal driving is in areas supported by stations, you can go dedicated. Most people have several vehicles. If you need to travel outside of your comfort range, as far as station availability goes, take (or rent) a different car.

          I've discovered that most people are lazy. They've been spoiled by the "station on every corner" mentality that has taken root in this country. It may never be that convenient where cng is concerned. But the people I deal with that have made the switch never even mention, or should I say "whine" about station availability. They accept that they will drive slightly out of their way to get gas, but it's just a part of the experience of driving a clean car. They do whine when their favorite station is acting up, but you develope a new mindset once you make the change. I don't know anyone that would easily give up their cng car, in fact they're just the opposite. They run around singing the praises of cng and trying to get everyone they know to convert.

          If you can run cng for most of your driving, even with a little inconvenience where refueling is concerned, and you have another car for specialized trips... you are a perfect candidate. If refueling is that scarce, and that means one station in your town and no more for 20 miles, you should go dual-fuel. You can switch once the infrastructure catches up.
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          • #6
            Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

            Curt, thanks for your input.

            Yes, I would love to see a bi-fuel model of Civic GX. Problem with going dedicated GX is there is only one cng station that I know of where you can drive in and fill up. Other stations require you to open an account with the utility companies (probably not that difficult to do and for all I know gas might be cheaper that way than the station open to public that was selling cng for $2.46 last week).

            How would a civic hybird compare with dedicated GX cost-wise if I am doing about 20,000 miles a year? Factor in any special inspection/maintenance requirement.

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            • #7
              Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

              I guess that depends on a number of factors. There's no simple answer to your question. I did a spread sheet for someone a while back ( I wish I'd kept it) and given the incentives and reduced fuel costs of home refueling, the GX came out over $5000 cheaper over a 5 yr period. That will vary in your area given the incentives you have, whether you fuel at home and whether the gas co there discounts for doing so.

              The best incentive on any Hybrid now is the federal tax credit on the GX, and it's only $2150. The GX is $4000 tax credit. There's about a $3000 price difference, so if that is all you have, and fuel is about the same price... It's a wash. The problem with Hybrids is the battery packs. They cost a lot! This destroys the resale because no one wants to be the one to get that bill. Used Hybrids are like a hot potato. They want it out of their hands before they get burned by a $4000 battery replacemant.

              They also have a lot more in the way of complex systems and computers onboard. If you go that route get the longest, most comprehensive warranty available. The GX is basically like every other Honda, except it runs on a different kind of gas. The maintenance requirements are less than a regular car and the cost of operation is $.04 @ mile as oppposed to $.08 @ mile for a regular car, based on an article I read in 2005. I have no idea what it is on the Hybrid.

              Does that mean a Hybrid isn't right for you either? Absolutely not. In Ca. the battery Pac is covered for 10yr/150k. I'm not sure about NY. If you keep your cars forever, this may be an ideal choice for you.

              From what you tell me though, I think a dedicated cng with home refueling would serve your purpose (as long as you have a second car for traveling). A duel-fuel would be even better if you refuel at home. There's been a lot of Home Refueling devices showing up on EBay lately.

              A Hybrid would be my 3rd choice, then a regular gas car. You are going to have to figure this one out for yourself, my friend. I can't get into your shoes from here and decide what works best for you. I just hope you go with the "Greenest" car that suits your needs. If we all did that, we would reduce our nations dependence on foriegn oil that much faster.

              Maybe someone else can chime in and let you know what they did in a similar situation. Good luck, and let me know if I can help in any way.
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              • #8
                Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

                Originally posted by Curtis View Post
                I guess that depends on a number of factors. There's no simple answer to your question. I did a spread sheet for someone a while back ( I wish I'd kept it) and given the incentives and reduced fuel costs of home refueling,
                I don't know if this will help or not, but on Sno-Motion's website (www.sno-motion.com) there is an Excel spreadsheet that you can download and tailor to your needs. It compares the cost and incentives for driving a gasoline vehicle versus converting and driving a CNG vehicle. Sno-Motion is a company that does conversions in Utah. I used this spreadsheet in determining to sell my Chevy Prizm that got 40 mpg and buy a Chevy Cavalier (bi-fuel) that gets 30 mpg but uses CNG that costs $0.64/GGE in Utah.
                Jared.
                Mountain Green, Utah
                2003 CNG Cavalier
                2003 CNG Silverado 2500HD

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                • #9
                  Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

                  Originally posted by Highmarker View Post
                  I don't know if this will help or not, but on Sno-Motion's website (www.sno-motion.com) there is an Excel spreadsheet that you can download and tailor to your needs. It compares the cost and incentives for driving a gasoline vehicle versus converting and driving a CNG vehicle. Sno-Motion is a company that does conversions in Utah. I used this spreadsheet in determining to sell my Chevy Prizm that got 40 mpg and buy a Chevy Cavalier (bi-fuel) that gets 30 mpg but uses CNG that costs $0.64/GGE in Utah.
                  So what was the outcome of your spreadsheet?
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                  • #10
                    Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

                    I think the topic has changed to Financial feasibility of converting to a NGV.
                    I thought about getting a hybrid a while back, and with the price difference in fuel, the Hybrid was close in dollars per mile. Now with gasoline expected to climb to 4.00+ a gallon with 100$+ a barrel oil, I know the GX was a better choice.
                    I am saving over 200$ a month from not driving my 21 mpg van.
                    J
                    BLUE 09 GX

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                    • #11
                      Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

                      Originally posted by Curtis View Post
                      So what was the outcome of your spreadsheet?
                      I save $75 a month driving my Cavalier on CNG versus driving a Prizm that gets 40 mpg. And I essentially got money back for buying my Cavalier (see below).

                      Sell price of Prizm - -$3500
                      Cost of Cavalier* - +$5968
                      Utah Tax Credit - -$2968

                      Total Savings - $500

                      *Cost of Cavalier includes transportation costs, taxes, license and registration.

                      The $75/month savings comes from driving 70 miles a day for 5 days a week comparing a 40 mpg car at $3.00/Gal to a 28 mpgge at $0.64/GGE.
                      Jared.
                      Mountain Green, Utah
                      2003 CNG Cavalier
                      2003 CNG Silverado 2500HD

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                      • #12
                        Re: Financial feasibility of CNG Conversion?

                        Thanks for all the responses so far. I have not downloaded the Excel spreadsheet yet. The savings are real if the cost of CNG is 0.64 per GGE. In my area, the cost of CNG is $2.46 per GGE. If I drive 24,000 miles a year, the cost of gasoline for a hybrid (assume Civic Hybrid) would be [24000/40 (mpg)] x 3.00 (current gas price) = $1800 for one year. Compare that to a dual-fuel Cavalier, and the cost would be [24000/28 (mpg)] x 2.46 (current CNG price) = $2100. Assuming the gasoline will hit $4 per gallon and that the cost of CNG stays the same, the cost of driving a hybrid works out to [24000/40] x 4 = $2400. This assumes the cost of CNG will stay the same and the cost of gasoline will hit $4 even though it is always the cheapest in New Jersey where I fill up, where it may not go higher than $3.50 or $3.75 when the national average is about 4.

                        Economically, makes little difference if I go dual-fuel CNG or hybrid. Only real difference is the cost of battery replacement for a hybrid, as Curt had pointed out earlier. But then I have the convenience of having a gas station at every corner. Surprisingly, there aren't many easily accessible CNG stations in the NY/NJ area.

                        Besides, I just noticed on fueleconomy.gov (while comparing Civic Hybrid and Civic Gas) is that the CO2 emission of a hybrid was actually lower than gas. Just do a side by side comparison.

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