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by Matt Brogan

Mercedes-Benz is strongly considering plans to sell a natural-gas powered vehicle (NGV) in the United States and will showcase a B-class model that runs on the compressed fuel at this week’s Washington Motor Show.

William Craven, general manager of regulatory affairs for Daimler’s Washington office, confirmed the company’s interest in NGVs for the US market at a green-car conference before the show.

Craven and other industry leaders said many options to petrol powered vehicles exist, and that all need to be used if we are to continue to enjoy personal transport.

Most conference participants argued against government choosing a single solution to the problems of overreliance on petroleum and the automobile’s role in the threat of climate change.

Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president of Audi America, warned that government pressure on the Detroit 3 to concentrate on plug-in electric hybrids could be the death knell for the struggling companies. He warned that the companies could end up trying to sell vehicles that don’t make economic sense.

Natural gas once was considered a promising alternative fuel but has fallen out of favour in the light-duty segment. Regardless of this fact Honda still sells the Civic GX in North America (which uses compressed natural gas) while Mercedes-Benz offers a version of the B-class in Europe that can run on either petrol or compressed natural gas.

Richard Kolodziej, president of Natural Gas Vehicles for America, said the United States will miss a big opportunity if it fails to use its ample supplies of natural gas, which he said is climate-friendly, clean-burning and economical. Kolodziej’s group promotes the use of natural gas and hydrogen in cars and trucks.




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