Detroit Automakers Laud Natural Gas Vehicles

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted September 17, 2012

Last Friday, the Society of Automotive Analysts Strategic Planning Summit met in Southfield, Michigan, and many agreed natural gas could be the future vehicle fuel.

The Detroit Free Press talked to Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist at General Motors (NYSE: GM):

“The U. S. now has a 100-year supply of natural gas,” he said. “I’d make a bet it’s the next big transportation fuel. The price is so much lower than gasoline – people will find a way to use it.”

Indeed, general consensus was that long-haul trucking stands to benefit early on, with the trend spreading throughout the auto industry over time. The big problems for electric vehicles are seen as a mixture of initial costs, battery range, and charging time. Policy may have to be adjusted or created at the national level (whether in the U.S. or in China) to ensure EVs get an initial boost.

Chrysler, Ford (NYSE: F), and even GM received some sharp criticism by Maryann Keller, one of the Society’s founders, who argued that all those companies had dawdled around and wasted money on diversifications, stock buybacks, and gimmickry instead of actively pursuing research to keep up with fuel trends.

But these same companies showed interest in the promise of natural gas in vehicles, something that is likely to revolutionize the auto industry.

In general, the emerging markets in India, China, and Russia received a fair bit of attention, as some predicted these nations’ automakers will obtain prestige in the next several decades. China and Russia are also pursuing shale development in an effort to replicate the American success in that area.

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