I’ve done a lot of research into converting a car to CNG or propane, and its slim pickin’s for EPA-approved conversion kits. That’s about to change as the EPA is “streamlining” the process through which conversion kit manufacturers can certify their kits.
Do-it-yourselfers and shadetree mechanics have been converting cars to run on CNG, propane, biodiesel, electricity and other alternative fuels for literally decades. The problem is that for a mom-and-pop fuel conversion kit maker, the costs for getting their kits EPA-certified is prohibitively expensive, and they were forced to undergo the same stringent testing and regulations as multi-billion dollar auto companies. Thus many of the kits out there are for “off-road use only,” and only a handful of companies have had the wherewithal to get their conversion kits, whatever it may be, approved by the EPA.
The EPA will now make the process for certifying a conversion kit much easier, based on the age of the to-be-converted car. Conversion manufacturers must still demonstrate to the EPA that the kits meet air pollution requirements on new and “intermediately aged” automobiles, which covers all cars made after 2,000. These tests includes submitting technical plans for the conversion, as well as exhaust and evaporative emissions testing and, though intermediate cars there is no certificate or regular re-certification required.
This is my favorite part. For vehicles older than model-year 2000 though, no such testing is required; merely a notification of the EPA of what was done to the converted car, if I am understanding this correctly. Prior to this change in procedure, even making conversion systems for much, much older cars was very costly and usually not worth it. But these changes could help a cottage industry of alt-fuel conversions crop up. Yes, I know there are already some out there, though not nearly as many as I’d like to see. Perhaps it will help bring down the costs of those propane and CNG conversion kits I’ve been eyeing…
Get the full details over at the EPA’s website or read the press release on the next page.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.