VW / Audi Announce eGas Plans for New, CNG A3


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!

SourcesGreen Car Congress, Planetsave.

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • Hi,

    How good an idea it is might depend on the efficiency of the NG generation vs the cost of batteries. For example:
    “BEST STRATEGY FOR ETHANOL: A comprehensive study in Science Magazine shows that burning biomass in power plants to power plug-ins yields 80% more distance per unit of crop land (and half the CO2) than using it as an engine fuel. http://spectrum.ieee.org/­green-tech/­advanced-cars/­burning-biomass-to-charge-electric-vehicles-beats-fueling-cars-with-ethanol“.

    I like the basic idea more than using biomass, which is really equivalent to agricultural strip mining.

  • Natural gas is not green. Natural gas is worse than coal. Google “methane leakage NPR” for more information.

    • @jim1961

      Depends on who you ask and how you ask the question. Frankly, I’m of the as-long-as-its-not-oil-its-green-enough crowd.

      • Does that mean you believe coal is a green fuel?

    • Read the article before commenting, please. The negative effects of conventional natural gas extraction that NPR mentions are precisely what Audi’s eGas tech is addressing.

      • I stand corrected Jo Borras. I did not read the full article. However, I’m still skeptical. What set of circumstances would exempt Audi’s eGas from the same laws of physics which makes hydrogen from electrolysis a losing proposition. The following graphic illustrates an insurmountable problem for hydrogen as fuel for transportation. http://www.physorg.com/news85074285.html

        • It’s not exempt from physics, but this is harnessing of waste energy from their production facilities and from the power stations which produce electricity and feed it into the grid. It is literally collecting what is there, and has been there (untapped), for years.

  • Tom

    On the surface, this sounds great. I have to wonder, why have I never heard of methane made from hydrogen?

    • I’d never heard of hydraulic fracking until a few months ago – my not having heard of it had no bearing on its reality.

      • Most of the time Hydrogen made from Meathen