Why Russia Chooses Natural Gas (CNG) Over Plug-In Vehicles

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 1

Natural Gas Terminal

Natural Gas Terminal

It’s cost.  End of story.

Typical CNG Conversion Kits Cost $1,000 in Russia

Typical CNG Conversion Kits Cost $1,000 in Russia

Okay, we’ll fill it in with some details.

Russia is believed to be the world’s second largest “producer” of natural gas, behind only the US.  Thus, natural gas is cheap in Russia.

Reports vary, but it’s believed that natural gas costs roughly $2 less than gasoline per comparative (the cost of natural gas here is for a volume that contains the same amount of energy as 1 gallon of gasoline) gallon.  Natural gas is cheap in the US, too, but we here tend to prefer plug-in vehicles over CNG.  Over in Russia, the story is the opposite.

Why the difference? CNG conversion kits in the US are subject to all sorts of guidelines, regulations and mandates.  This means that it costs OEM’s here approximately $12,000 to $18,000 to install a certified conversion kit on an existing vehicle.  That’s more costly than most battery packs used in today’s plug-in vehicles, so it’s more cost effective to go the plug-in route.

Over in Russia, where no such guidelines exist for CNG conversions, do-it-yourself kits are readily available and road legal.  In Russia, a conversion kit can be purchase and installed by a shadetree mechanic for roughly $1,000 or converting can be handled by one of several local aftermarket shops located in the natural gas-heavy areas of Russia.

The CNG Option on This 2012 Chevy Express Van Cost $15,910

The CNG Option on This 2012 Chevy Express Van Cost $15,910

A CNG vehicle in Russia costs less to fuel, is cheap to convert and, unlike plug-in vehicles that require a high level of expertise to repair, CNG automobiles operate almost exactly the same as the gas- or diesel-fueled vehicles they started life out as.  This means any average mechanic can perform most of the necessary repairs.

Lax CNG regulations in Russia mean that plug-in vehicles stand no real chance there.

In the US, it’s the opposite, with only four factory-equipped CNG vehicles on sale today: Honda Civic NG, Dodge Ram 2500, Chevy Silverado and Ford F-250.  Some conversion firms in the US will handle the task of switching a gas or diesel vehicle over to CNG, but it’s costly and mostly only done for commercial fleets.

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One response to "Why Russia Chooses Natural Gas (CNG) Over Plug-In Vehicles"

  1. Max says:

    Strange article. Especially last part.

    I’m from Russia. CNG is driven by Gazprom and the government. But never opposed to EVs by any officials. Has no spread in mass public. Story is very very long. Infrastructure is expensive, hard to build and guess what…these stations burn and when they do it you can see it from far far away like 10-15 km. Will enforce purchasing of some 1500 or so CNG buses under government subsiding and some large trucks and that’s it. Good lobbing nothing else.

    EVs do live in Russia. And as opposed to Gazprom, Russian Networks – electrical transportation and distribution monopoly has developed and indeed pushing National EV infrastructure development program.