Just as the Israeli parliament deliberates the fate of its recently discovered natural gas reserves, CNH Industrial and Fiat Chrysler announced the commercialization of the first-ever natural gas vehicle on the Israeli market. According to reports, the agreement is part of an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Fiat Chrysler, CNH Industrial and Israel’s Fuel Choices Initiative (IFCI) for sustainable fuel replacements.
The first vehicle to be commercialized is an Iveco Stralis 4×2 heavy truck, a huge tractor-trailer-sized truck that is powered by an Iveco Cursor 8 Compressed Natural Gas engine. The group that manufactures the vehicles, CNH Industrial, believes that this is the first step to replacing diesel engine trucks.
So how do natural gas trucks compare to run-of-the-mill diesel-fueled trucks? First off, natural gas is a completely clean form of fuel that has at least 95 percent less particulate emissions than typical diesel fuels. In addition, natural gas-powered vehicles emit 35 percent less nitrogen oxide, a compound that contaminates ground water and is said by critics to be one of the biggest culprits for global warming. Another harmful chemical that natural gas-powered vehicles significantly minimizes is carbon dioxide (CO2), which dangerously deteriorates the ozone layer protecting us from the sun. In fact, natural gas, or biomethane, decreases CO2 emissions from 161.3 pounds per British termal units (Btu) in diesel fuel vehicles to 117 pounds per Btu in natural gas-powered vehicles.
Then there’s the issue of price. According to studies conducted by Israel’s IFCI and CNH Industrial, the use of natural gas where it is abundant accounts for up to a 40 percent decrease in fuel expenses, which is great news for an oil-barren country like Israel.
The dealer of Fiat vehicles in Israel, Mediterranean Car Agency, announced that it will also import a 39 foot (12 meter) natural gas-powered Iveco bus. Trial runs and demonstrations on the bus will be conducted over a two month period in Israel. The cooperation between Fiat Chrysler, CNH Industrial and the IFCI, an initiative begun by the Prime Minister’s Office ten years ago, is meant to help the agency realize its goal of making Israel an alternative fuels knowledge hub.