Fast Company

Will T. Boone Pickens' Natural Gas Taxi Plan Work?

natural gas taxiT. Boone Pickens isn't a man that gives up. After the former Texas oil magnate's giant wind power plan fell by the wayside, Pickens took up a new cause: natural gas vehicles. Most recently, Pickens took a trip to Dallas to promote the city's shift to a natural gas taxi cab fleet.

The city only has a $38,000 prototype cab that goes 250 miles on a single tank of natural gas, but Pickens hopes that a larger move by the taxi industry into natural gas could go a long way in promoting a natural gas infrastructure of pump stations. New York City already has 250 cabs running on natural gas. But while natural gas is cheaper and more abundant than petroleum at the moment, Pickens' latest pet project has little chance of making it big.

There are a number of reasons, but chief among them is that natural gas isn't a renewable resource. While prices are low at the moment, they are extremely volatile, with prices in California swinging 300% over the last four years. Electric cars, in comparison, can potentially be powered by completely renewable resources (i.e. solar and wind). That's at least part of the reason why most car companies have put their eggs in the electric car basket. The chicken and egg problem of whether an electric car infrastructure should be built before mass production of EVs or the other way around has plagued the industry, but at least there are a number of companies working on the problem. The same can't be said for a natural gas infrastructure.

The auto industry is notoriously slow at adopting to new technology, and now that it has taken to the idea of plug-in vehicles, there is little chance that it will make a sudden switch to natural gas. Pickens probably won't stop campaigning for natural gas any time soon--he has big investments in the industry--but the billionaire would do well to pay more attention to the burgeoning EV market.

[Via Dallas News]

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