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CNG for passenger cars and commercial vehicles

CNG, Compressed Natural Gas, is a fuel for cars and commercial vehicles – not to be confused with LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), which is not natural gas.

Vehicles powered by gas are as old as the Otto engine, developed for precisely this purpose in 1860. Gas combustion in the Otto-Motor is practically soot- and particle-free as well as cleaner and far less noisy than gasoline and diesel.

CNG is affordable and saves money with every refill. It’s a viable alternative to conventional fuels.

CNG is a viable option
A CNG-vehicle does not have to be expensive. Today, the purchase of many models is as attractive as a comparable diesel vehicle or even more favorable due to promotions. In these cases, a CNG-car instantly pays off. Should the initial cost of purchase be higher, it will be offset by the better fuel economy (kg) for equal distances and driving styles. At the pump, you pay considerably less: at OMV filling stations, one kilogram of CNG is substantially cheaper than gasoline. With this kilogram, however, you can travel the same distance as with about 1.5 liters of gasoline. 

CNG takes you further
Thanks to advances in technology, engines optimized for CNG can achieve a boost in performance of 5 - 10% and have lower consumption than a comparable gasoline or diesel vehicle. A bivalent CNG-car can travel 500 to 1000 km with one visit to the filling station (CNG-tank and conventional gasoline tank combined). The operational switch from CNG to gasoline usually happens automatically. Monovalent vehicles can travel up to approximately 500 km with a full tank (some models can last considerably longer).

A clean alternative
By reducing harmful emissions, CNG also saves society long-term costs and helps to fulfill international climate protection agreements. This has also been recognized by politicians.

CNG combustion is practically free of soot and particulates. Harmful emissions are reduced to a minimum: Gas vehicles save – at same performance – more than 20% CO2 compared to gasoline and almost 10% compared to the latest generation of Diesel engines. Additionally, gas vehicles emit 75% less nitrogen oxides.

Additionally, processed biogas can be mixed with CNG to further reduce CO2 emissions. Compared to diesel, adding 20% processed biogas improves a CNG-car’s environmental performance by up to 23% and a CNG-truck’s by 31%, respectively. This marks an important contribution to regional air quality. No other technology can provide this tried-and-tested, realistically available and regional perspective.

Investing into gas mobility also secures the option to integrate and use renewable energy sources in the future.

Safety takes priority over all else. The special tanks built into vehicles are constructed according to the strictest of safety guidelines and tested under extreme conditions. They store the gas at a pressure of approximately 200 bar. Consequently, the volume is reduced to around 1/200. Additional safety is ensured by regular inspections as well as a row of auxiliary components such as valves, which prevent excessive pressure in the event of a fire, as well as regular inspections.

Fueling CNG-vehicles is also completely safe. Gas flows into the tank the moment the pump is correctly connected to the tank of the CNG-vehicle. This process is just as quick and uncomplicated as with diesel or gasoline.

In fact, after a professional maintenance, a CNG-vehicle is just as safe as any other vehicle. This also holds true in the event of a collision. A bursting pressure of 600 bar is stipulated for the gas tank; this is far greater than the effect excessive heat or a collision would have. If a heavy crash does occur, the safety valves open and the gas is dispersed. Tests carried out by Austrian and German motoring organizations (ÖAMTC and ADAC) confirm that the danger of an explosion is under no account higher than with conventional vehicles.

In its brochure, the Technical Inspection Agency of Bavaria awarded CNG-vehicles the following seal of approval: "As safe as a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle".

At gas stations, natural gas in the form of CNG is sold per kilogram. 0.7 kilograms are equivalent to around 1 liter of gasoline. OMV offers CNG at filling stations in Austria, Germany and Bulgaria.

With CNG through Austria
CNG is currently available in Austria at around 130 public filling stations. They are well represented both along the main traffic routes and in areas of high population density. This means that crossing Austria from Vienna to the Bodensee using a CNG-engine represents no problem at all. Additionally, several commercial filling stations also power their vehicle fleet with the alternative fuel. The fueling process is easy and fast, similarly to that of gasoline or diesel.

Visiting the neighbors with CNG
Austria's neighbors expand their CNG filling station networks continuously. Status November 2019: Germany (844), Italy (1,301), Slovakia (13), Slovenia (5), Czech Republic (196), Hungary (19) and Switzerland (149). Trips across country borders areno issue.

There's gas and then there's gas
With respect to gas as a fuel, there are differences: Liquid petroleum gas (LPG), also known as propane or butane, is created during the distillation process of crude oil in the refinery. In contrast to natural gas, it is heavier than air, evaporates more slowly, and is more flammable. Standard liquid gas vehicles must under no account be operated with natural gas/ CNG.

Self-service at the pump
Self-filling of CNG vehicles is generally permitted in most countries. However, please adhere to signposting at the filling station.

The new generation of CNG vehicles
In principle, every Otto-engine can be operated with gas. Furthermore, the automobile industry already offers a row of mass-produced CNG-vehicles which are either monovalent (only run on CNG) or bivalent (run on CNG and gasoline). These are fitted with under-floor gas tanks; therefore, no loss of space is incurred.

Optimized engines with Turbocharger and Compressor ensure maximum driving fun, low consumption (between 3 and 4 kg/100 km) and fewer emissions.

Underground parking lots
Generally, you can park your CNG-vehicle anywhere that a conventional vehicle can park. Parking in underground parking lots is permitted in most states.

The ban on “gas vehicles” from public underground parking lots is directed at liquid gas (LPG) vehicles, because liquid gas is heavier than air.

Under private law, signposting at a garage entrance must be adhered to and each garage owner can declare a ban for his area. Consequently, before purchasing a CNG vehicle, it is recommendable to clarify this question with the building and/or garage owner and to draw his attention to the general authorization.

If you are planning to build a garage at home, it is important to ensure sufficient ventilation.

When operating a CNG-vehicle in Austria, a so-called service book must be carried. This is a document that must contain the following:

  • Functional specifications and technical data
  • Operating and maintenance instructions and requirements
  • Explanation on using these operating instructions
  • Information on recurring technical inspections
  • Instructions concerning the response in the event of gas odor
  • Information on lines of authority for repairs and structural changes
  • Regulations concerning the procedure when taking the vehicle out of operation

This service book must be supplied by the vehicle manufacturer or the company that installed the CNG-tank (in the case of retro-fitted gasoline cars).

The inspection of CNG-cars according to § 57a is almost identical to that of conventional vehicles. The so-called "leakage test” of gas tanks is not necessary anymore since this is checked automatically directly at the CNG filling station.

Independently from §57a, a visual examination of the CNG-tanks is necessary after 36 months. If any problems arise, the examiner has to remove the tanks and check them in detail.