Abstract for: Natural Gas Pathways and Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Diffusion in the US Automotive Fleet

The recent abundance of low-cost domestic natural gas in the United States is an opportunity for many energy-intensive industries. While several conversion pathways exist to fuel automobiles using natural gas, the automotive pathways that should be pursued given fuel costs, environmental impacts and the diffusion of alternative-fuel vehicle technologies remains an open question. Here I develop an empirically grounded dynamic model of alternative-fuel vehicle diffusion, parameterized for a range of competing vehicle platforms and conventional and natural gas fuel pathways. Using comparative analysis of technology and policy scenarios, I find that promotion of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles has the potential to stifle diffusion of more-efficient hybrid and electric vehicle platforms, leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The most promising opportunities lie with plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, where natural gas can be used as a transitional fuel until renewable electricity is introduced