By Robert Friedman – VNG’s COO
In seeking to achieve cleaner air, the most important vehicle segment is being overlooked while the best near-term solution is being ignored. The government is failing to address the environmental impact of the most popular but also most polluting vehicle segment – light-duty trucks (pick-ups, cross-overs, SUVs and vans). As noted in the article “Monster Month for Truck Sales” in the May 9, 2016 edition of Automotive News, light-trucks accounted for a whopping 59% of total sales in the month of April. Since 2000, light-trucks have accounted for 53% of all light-duty vehicle sales.
Further complicating the issue, light-duty trucks are the most profitable vehicles for auto manufacturers, making the segment critical for the health of the auto industry. Despite the importance of the light-duty truck segment to the auto-industry, government regulations have positioned electrification as the principal technology to achieve cleaner air when light-duty trucks are not well-suited to electrification due to vehicle weight and inability of EVs to meet the preferences of light-duty truck drivers. Without an electrification opportunity for these heavier vehicles, the failure to adequately address the light-duty truck segment is a glaring oversight.
Natural gas vehicles check all the boxes as a light-duty truck solution – NGVs meet consumer preferences, provide environmental benefits and support auto industry financial health. With the use of renewable natural gas, NGVs reduce CO2 emissions by 85% or more relative to gasoline and up to 25% with conventional natural gas. RNG accounts for 60% of all natural gas vehicle fueling in California and 35% on average across the country.
By providing a level regulatory playing field for natural gas vehicles through CAFE credit and tax incentive equality, we can motivate the auto industry to support and consumers to buy the vehicles they most prefer (pick-up trucks) and while safeguarding the environment and the auto industry. Further, natural gas also provides the consumer with the opportunity for long-term low and stable fuel prices relative to gasoline and brings us closer to energy independence.
Not properly addressing the emissions of the light-duty truck segment leaves us with another “can kicked down the road” and a bigger, more expensive issue to deal with in the future.
For the full Automotive News article referenced above click the link.