Some Indianapolis-area vehicles already are running on the fumes.
Will your first or next car be one that runs on natural gas? Dan O'Brien, public affairs coordinator for Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, says his will be.
Citizens Gas is in the process of converting its entire customer fleet to run on compressed natural gas. When an older van goes out of service, the gas company automatically converts it so it can run on compressed natural gas as well as gasoline.
It has converted 56 out of its 102 vehicles in Marion County.
The bad news is that the natural gas vans lose 5 to 10 percent of their power.
O'Brien said the good news, however, is that they:
Get 10 percent better mileage.
Last longer than gasoline vehicles because natural gas has fewer corrosive elements.
Are better for the environment because natural gas is cleaner than gasoline.
Cost only 70 to 80 cents per equivalent gallon to run.
Have proved to be safer than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
"You have to remember that natural gas is lighter than air," O'Brien said. If the gas tank punctured, the natural gas "would dissipate," while gasoline stays on the ground.
When natural gas cars finally reach the average consumer, some people may have the luxury of filling their cars at home in the garage. The governor of Texas does just that.
But for those who need natural gas when they're away from home, Citizens Gas also has that covered. O'Brien said the company is negotiating with Amoco Oil Co. to create two natural gas refueling stations in Indianapolis within the next year or two.
In Evansville, the public school system has approximately 90 school buses that run on natural gas.
Recently General Motors Corp., one of the Big Three U.S. automakers, announced plans to build 10,000 lightweight pickup trucks in 1992 that will run totally on natural gas. The American Gas Association has projected that there could be 500,000 natural gas vehicles on the highways by the next century.