Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are still used mostly for commercial fleets–or, in the case of Los Angeles, public transportation–but according to to a new report from Pike Research, that’s set to change. The cleantech firm sees a significant increase in both consumer and commercial sales over the next several years from 1.9 million vehicles per year in 2010 to more than 3.2 million units annually by 2016.
NGVs have been available worldwide since the 1970’s, but have caught on mainly in North America, parts of Western Europe and parts of Asia and the Middle East–areas with favorable economics for natural gas. Factors expected to drive sales of NGVs in these regions over the coming years include reductions in imported oil, the push towards lower greenhouse gas emissions, and the availability of vehicle and refueling stations.
This last element continues to be the main sticking point for NGVs in reaching a consumer market. While commercial fleets can regularly return to a central fueling station, everyday drivers with NGVs find it difficult to find places to fill up, and likely will continue to in the future, as according to Pike, the level at which such infrastructure is expected to expand will not keep pace with the growth of the vehicle market.
The complete report, entitled “Natural Gas Vehicles,” is available for free download online.