Though the U.S. seems to dominate the news when it comes to CNG vehicles, over in Europe automakers are also playing with natural gas vehicles. The new VW Eco Up! is being billed as the world’s most fuel-efficient CNG vehicle, returning an estimated 56 mpg with some of the lowest carbon emissions of any vehicle on the road.
In addition to being able to run CNG, the VW Eco Up! can also run on biomethane…basically gas derived from either poop or decomposing plant matter. As gross as it sounds, biomethane could be a major fuel of the future, though fueling stations are few and far between. What’s really key here though is fuel efficiency, and not just the fuel itself.
VW claims that the Eco Up! uses just 2.9 kg of CNG to go 100 kilometers, or about 62 miles. That works out to around 56 mpg on the U.S. testing scale, though it is not an exact translation (your milage may vary). That said, it is safe to say that the Eco Up! gets better gas mileage than the only CNG car for sale in the U.S., the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which averages 31 mpg combined. Combine this with carbon emissions of just 79 grams per kilometer, and you have one clean, efficient car.
Alas, the Volkswagen Eco Up! won’t be coming to U.S. shores anytime soon, not even as an electric car, despite previous reports. With Volkswagen ruling diesel car sales as well, I don’t expect to see too many CNG Vdubs rolling on American roads in the near future. But a 56 mpg, CNG compact car could be a great entry point if the price was right.