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The increasing cost of fuel prices together with government incentives and more fuelling stations is increasing demand for compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, according to Ford.

Metro Taxi of West Haven, Connecticut is going to be taking delivery of 20 Ford Transit Connect Taxis powered by CNG, according to company owner Bill Scalzi.

“Fleet managers are adding all the reasons up and concluding that it makes sense to switch to CNG now more than ever,” said Ford Commercial Business Manager of the New England area, Rod Phillips.

CNG is made by compressing natural gas, which is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of 2,900 to 3,600 psi. CNG is a non toxic, clean-burning fuel and reduces carbon emissions, compared with gasoline. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, using CNG can result in 30 to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, government incentives such as rebates or tax credits are prompting fleet owners such as Scalzi to buy or convert their vehicles to run on CNG at reduced rates. The federally funded Clean Cities Petroleum Reductions Program is providing USD$300m in funding to regional projects across the US. One project is the Connecticut Clean Cities Future Fuels Project, which partially covers the costs of converting a vehicle to CNG. This project plans to provide funding for 264 alternative-fuel vehicles.

As a result, the incentives are helping fund construction of CNG fueling stations as nearly 1,000 CNG fueling stations are now spread across the US.

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“We took the chance that infrastructure would expand when we introduced our Transit Connect Taxi CNG capability in advance of any incentives for infrastructure or CNG conversions,” added marketing manager for Ford fleet operations, Gerald Koss. “It turns out our timing couldn’t have been better.”