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Automotive

VW looks to natural gas as it pivots away from diesel

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In the wake of the ongoing Volkswagen diesel scandal, VW is exploring options outside diesel that could help it lower emissions and improve fleet fuel economy. One potential avenue is cars that run on natural gas, and VW has been talking with both Exxon Mobil and Gazprom in hopes they back the idea.

“We are now really trying to think out of the box and find solutions that can be helpful at least in this transition period of 10 to 20 years,” said VW CEO Matthias Mueller in an interview on Austria’s ORF radio.

VW plans to roll out four electric vehicles in the next few years, as the automaker has made progress in reducing EV production costs. However, both compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric propulsion are needed to lower its fleet-wide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while distancing the automaker from its diesel scandal.  

Using natural gas a fuel source isn’t a new idea — the Honda Civic GX was available to the general public until a few years ago, along with its novel “Phill” home refueling station. Hurdles like range, refueling infrastructure and bulky in-vehicle storage remain challenges, though they’re all easier to overcome with CNG than more exotic fuels like hydrogen. We’ll see if VW pursues the tech, and if they can be more successful than Honda was with the GX.


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