Pike Research, a Boulder, Co. firm, said it’s going to be fleet sales driving most of the growth. In just two years time, two-thirds of all natural-gas vehicles sold will be in fleets. That means sale of natural gas vehicles in 2016 would put 2.1 million in fleet sales.
The biggest hurdle natural gas vehicles have to overcome is where to fill up. It won’t be as much a concern for fleets, which could install their own stations, but it could be for consumers looking for a place to top off the tank. Pike Research says growth in refueling stations won’t keep pace with demand. Stations grow by 5.9 percent annual to 2016 while vehicles grow 7.9 percent annually.
That issue becomes more prevalent for consumer markets in parts of Asia and the Middle East. According to Pike, The primary growth drivers in these countries are the favorable economics of natural gas, the reduction of oil imports, the environmental benefits of lower greenhouse gas emissions, and the availability of vehicle and refueling stations. North American and Western European use is geared more towards commercial fleets.
At the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, the Honda Civic GX was the only natural gas vehicle on display, which is somewhat ironic considering the fact that no U.S. consumers around Detroit can actually buy one. It is sold in California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma. It is the only OEM-built, CNG-powered passenger car assembled in America.