A new local business wants to help car fleets save on fuel.
Executives of World CNG, a Seattle company that switches cars to run on compressed natural gas, said Thursday that the business has opened a conversion center just off of the Strip to tap into the city’s huge taxicab market, a segment that makes up a big part of its national business. Officials said they also want to be close to California markets for growth.
A $5 million cash infusion from a private investment fund in Seattle made the local facility possible.
“This capital investment marks an exciting stage in our company’s development,” President and CEO Garret Alpers said in a statement. “Over the past two years, World CNG has focused on expanding our footprint, driving down our conversion costs and making natural-gas vehicles more accessible. The new funding accelerates our ongoing goal of significantly shaping America’s natural-gas vehicle industry.”
World CNG said tanking up on natural gas costs about half as much as filling up with gasoline.
Annalloyd Thomason, vice president and general manager of the Natural Gas Vehicle Institute in Las Vegas, said World CNG’s move here was natural.
Thanks to a 1991 amendment to the federal Clean Air Act and the 1992 Energy Policy Act, Las Vegas and about 20 other cities with dirtier-than-average air had to change government fleets to alternative fuels about 20 years ago.
In Las Vegas, the go-to fuel was natural gas. And local CNG fleets haven’t been just for public agencies; when it opened in 2009, CityCenter’s 26-limo fleet was all-CNG — a first for any major hotel.
That large, early adoption of a natural gas fleet made for a strong fueling infrastructure. Figures from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center show the Las Vegas Valley with about 2 million people has six public CNG fueling stations.
In contrast, the Chicago metropolitan area, with a population of 9.5 million, has just four. Phoenix, with 4.2 million metro-area residents, also has four stations.
Southern Nevada’s above-average CNG base means World CNG has plenty of potential customers here who are familiar with the technology and interested in converting, said Thomason, whose company has offered technical training to World CNG employees.
But the transition wasn’t always easy, because conversion and servicing companies were out of state.
“That’s been one of the major obstacles. If you’re a fleet manager and you can’t get local installation and service work, you’re hesitant to buy CNG systems,” Thomason said.
That could change with World CNG. The company’s 8,000-square-foot facility at 2310 S. Highland Drive offers conversions, maintenance, service and certified car and tank inspections. It has eight employees, with plans to expand to 15 in coming months.
World CNG executives said they’re looking for a distribution center in the Southwest United States.
They also plan to move into the Chicago market.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.