Volkswagen’s Audi group has high hopes for its upcoming eGas fleet: nothing short of delivering the cleanest, carbon-neutralyest line of cars built anywhere on the planet – and they plan to do it with compressed natural gas (CNG).
Natural-gas-powered cars are a tricky sort of thing, politically, to get behind. Granted, CNG burns cleanly, delivers excellent performance, is readily available, and a gigantic national infrastructure for its distribution to consumers already exists (just flick on your gas stove if you don’t believe me), but the actual getting of the CNG is getting pretty controversial. The biggest problem with sourcing CNG is the “fracking” part of extraction. Hydraulic fracking has been linked with earthquakes, fish kills, and (generally speaking) has a reputation only slightly better than Adolf Hitler’s.
So, how do Audi’s marketers plan to make this (potential) PR disaster go away? By not extracting CNG at all.
Audi plans to fuel its cars with something it calls “eGas”, a synthetic methane produced by electrolysis using renewable electricity. Audi’s eGas project engineers hope their work (now 3 years in) will help the company to achieve a more neutral CO2 “balance” across the life-span of their vehicles.
That’s an admirable goal, and one that Audi is improving their odds of successfully meeting through the construction of offshore wind turbines in the North Sea, which will generate the clean power needed to produce and charge the company’s upcoming electric e-tron models, while using the remaining green power to produce the eGas that will fuel its CNG line.
What do you think, readers? Does this tech mean the end of fracking and the dawn of a new, CNG-fueled tomorrow … or is it just a PR push to keep Audi in the news ahead of Mercedes’ new diesel hybrids? Let us know what you think, in the comments!