WASHINGTON - For the first time, the cost of petroleum reached $100 per barrel in international trading today. Meanwhile, in the United States, the same amount of energy in the form of natural gas was selling for only about $40. "In the past, there were substantial societal benefits of using more natural gas as a vehicle fuel - such as reducing dependence on foreign oil, reducing greenhouse gases and reducing urban pollution," said Richard Kolodziej, President of NGVAmerica. "Now, as the price gap between petroleum and natural gas widens, we're seeing a major economic advantage, too. As a result, 2008 will be a milestone year in the growth of natural gas vehicles in the U.S."

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are among the fastest growing alternative fueled vehicles around the world. There already are 6 million NGVs in use worldwide, with the number jumping by over 20 percent in 2007. "We expect that growth rate to continue - or even accelerate - as countries try to avoid the economic burden of rising oil prices while also trying to reduce greenhouse gases," said Kolodziej. "South America, Asia and Europe will see the most expansion, but we will see much more interest in NGV use in the U.S., too."

In 2007, the U.S. used about 250 million gasoline-gallons-equivalent of natural gas for vehicles. High fuel-use fleet vehicles, such as transit buses, school buses, trash trucks, and delivery vehicles are major targets for the industry as are commuter vehicles. To encourage the shift to NGVs, the federal government is offering income tax credits that range from $2,500 to $32,000 for the purchase or conversion of NGVs.

"There is no silver bullet answer to our dependence on foreign oil. We must be shifting to all alternatives in the regions of the country and in the applications where they make the most sense," said Kolodziej. "NGVs are a here-and-now alternative that makes environmental and economic sense."

NGVAmerica is a national organization dedicated to the development of a growing, sustainable and profitable market for vehicles powered by natural gas or hydrogen. NGVAmerica represents more than 120 companies interested in the promotion and use of natural gas and hydrogen as transportation fuels, including: engine, vehicle and equipment manufacturers; fleet operators and service providers; natural gas companies; and environmental groups and government organizations. For more information about NGVAmerica, visit our website at www.ngvamerica.org.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials