Russia Takes its Own Route to Auto Efficiency

Vehicles driven by Russia's abundant supplies of natural gas put hybrids to shame with their mileage per gallon. Gazprom is betting that it can expand the market for such vehicles beyond the country's lower-income and rural drivers.
April 12, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Gazprom, the state-owned energy monopoly better known for heating houses and powering factories in Europe, is making a bet that natural gas cars are an alluring market for future growth, at home in Russia and in other European countries that have bought its gas," reports Andrew E. Kramer. "All the ingredients are in place for adoption of natural gas vehicles in Russia, the world’s second-largest gas producer after the United States, with economic and environmental payoffs."

With higher efficiencies, lower costs, and better emissions compared to gasoline, the obstacles to wider adoption seem to be retail infrastructure and safety concerns.

"Russians still recall, with shudders, the fear of bursting tanks on substandard methane-fueled cars in the late 1980s," notes Kramer. “The first issue is that people are afraid their car will blow up,” remarked Yevgeny N. Pronin, director of the National Gas Motor Association of Russia, and an executive at Gazprom.

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Published on Thursday, April 11, 2013 in The New York Times
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