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T. Boone Pickens and Perseus Investing $160M in Natural Gas Vehicle

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The green-tinged former oil baron T. Boone Pickens is such a fan of his plan to have natural gas power a third of U.S. vehicles, he’s joining with a fund to build and launch a new natural gas vehicle for U.S. roads. Pickens and the natural gas distribution company he founded, Clean Energy Fuels, say this morning they have joined with the investment group Perseus to support the creation of a natural gas vehicle to the tune of $160 million. Clean Energy Fuels and Pickens will each commit $10 million, and Perseus is leading the investment; the Vehicle Production Group (VPG) will build the vehicle.

The group says the four-passenger vehicle will be used for taxi and paratransit and will be available in both gasoline and natural gas versions as soon as 2010. There aren’t many more details on the price or specs of the vehicle, but when we learn more we’ll add it. Update: On VPG’s website it says it is working on a vehicle called “The Standard Taxi,” and a Clean Energy spokesperson confirms that this is the vehicle that the company has invested in.

Currently there are very few natural gas vehicles on U.S. roads, though we think city fleets, transit vehicles and taxis are a good place to start. The most well-known natural gas vehicle around is the consumer Honda Civic GX, which costs $24,590 and is sold in California and New York.

There’s a reason there aren’t many of these natural gas vehicles out there yet — the technology has a few hurdles to jump. First off, natural gas vehicles commonly have a shorter range than their gas counterparts; the Honda Civic GX has a fuel mile range of 170 miles. Secondly, there’s a lack of natural gas distribution; according to the natural gas vehicle trade group the Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVA) there are more than 1,100 U.S. stations. While Pickens looks ready to invest in building out this infrastructure (he’s the country’s largest private owner of natural-gas fueling stations through Clean Energy Group according to this Newsweek article), it will need a lot more investment than the funds of a green-leaning former oil guy.

13 Responses to “T. Boone Pickens and Perseus Investing $160M in Natural Gas Vehicle”

  1. Mark Luond

    Why do alternative fuel vehicles, including the proposed taxi, seem to look like a child’s toy or a space-mobile for clowns?

    It would be embarrassing to even sit in one.

  2. OK…maybe I don’t understand this. I can’t afford to pay my natural gas heating bill now, each winter. …and it just keeps being projected as going higher. How will increasing the demand for naural gas to put in cars help the situation??

  3. Michael Krause

    Who do we believe,who do we trust? I would like to understand and know all the true facts and not someones gloom and doom or someone elses get rick quick skeem. It sounds like Pickens is on the right track, but humon nature makes me ask why is he pushing this issue, I can only hope the answer to that is “for the better of this great country.”
    We all need to do something in this Country to turn it around or the normal Joe is going to be in deep dodo in the future if he/she is hard working or not. Seem we can not count on our present govenment (the oil CEO’s) to help us out with this matter.
    Michael Krause

  4. Any new car design should also be a plug-in hybrid. Methane for vehicle fuel is reasonable, because it can be readily produced from biomass, much more so than ethanol. But that doesn’t mean you should waste it on a car design that uses a fuel so wastefully. It needs to be a PHEV.

    A PHEV that can run on renewable methane (or NG) as well as having a small gasoline tank is all we need.

  5. greensolutions

    Pickens apparently doesn’t understand that not only will natural gas production peak (as crude oil already has) but it will peak much faster than crude oil. We already have a large enough crisis looming with our dependence on natural gas for home heating and cooking. Why make it worse? Why invest in a technology that’s doomed to fail?