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Using natural gas brings benefits over shorter distances

Unlike vehicles with so-called “monovalent” drives from other manufacturers, the smart fortwo cng (compressed natural gas) allows drivers to choose between petrol or natural gas drive. The corresponding fuel is then injected into the vehicle’s intake manifolds – which is why this prototype is equipped with two fuel tanks. Believe it or not, the smart fortwo not only has room for installing an additional fuel tank, but in fact even provides the ideal conditions for doing so.

Changing between the two drive types is even possible during a journey

The modular design of the fuel system means that the entire high-pressure natural gas tank (2 x 16 litres) and the petrol tank (12 litres) fit in the car’s underbody. Thus the volume of the car’s interior and luggage compartment remain, as in the case of the electric drive model, unimpaired. The only difference is the battery charge level indicator and the switch for changing between the two drive types, both located on the centre console.

The driver is even able to change between the two drive types during a journey. The transition from one operating mode to the other is extremely smooth. If the natural gas supply starts to get a bit low, the driver can easily continue to the next filling station with the help of the vehicle’s petrol drive.

Number of natural gas filling stations has increased significantly

The car’s fuel consumption – approx. 3.2 kilograms of natural gas/4.7 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres under standard conditions – gives the smart fortwo cng a range of 385 kilometres (138 km with natural gas, and 255 km with petrol). For purposes of comparison, the petrol model, with its tank volume of 33 litres, can, on a purely calculative basis, travel some 700 kilometres without a fuel stop.

As apparent from these figures, a natural gas drive isn’t going to suit everyone’s needs. The efficiency of the vehicle’s motor and – in connection with its increased weight – its payload is lower.

However, those who drive mainly short distances will find that this combination of natural gas and petrol drive brings considerable benefits. Provided that there is a sufficient density of natural gas filling stations, a vehicle of this kind makes real sense. And that is certainly the trend: the number of natural gas filling stations has increased several times over in the last few years alone.