Fleet and Consumer Market Update Assessment Presented at SGA Conference
NGVAmerica presented a summary of the NGV market with added emphasis on current and future prospects for consumer market growth at the Southern Gas Association’s (SGA) Marketing, Customer Experience & Communications Conference in Sarasota, Florida. Stephe Yborra’s presentation, which was co-hosted by SGA’s Residential Sales & Marketing and Codes & Standards committees, included an update on the latest market metrics (vehicle inventories, station counts and estimated fuel use), expanding vehicle and engine options, and a discussion of current and potential consumer market and the value propositions that might be most effective with this target audience. He also gave a briefing on the latest developments of a CSA-led task force’s work in advancing development of ANSI Standard NGV 5.1 covering residential fueling appliances. Establishment of an ANSI Standard facilitates manufacturer investment and code body acceptance of appliances listed as meeting the standard. While several technical issues are still to be resolved, the CSA-led task force has pursued an aggressive development schedule and appears on track to publish the standard by November of this year.
Stephe’s discussion of the consumer market covered the current economics of consumer NGV market applications in which high initial cost premiums and relatively low fuel use generate lengthy simple payback periods, and he briefly summarized some of the cost factors that will likely decrease with economies of scale (although by how much is still much debated). He suggested that, while our industry works to create a more attractive economic value proposition, we should go after early adopters for whom economics are not necessarily the primary driver and tailor our value proposition for consumers by focusing on other positive attributes that have already proven effective for other alt fuel technologies with consumers. These include demonstrating environmental leadership within the community, support of greater American fuel use, creation of American jobs and related economic growth, adoption of advanced technology and collective individual action for broader societal benefit. These attributes have been cited as critical to early growth in hybrid vehicle market. Stephe also provided anecdotal information provided by several of our retail fuel station members concerning month-over-month consumer fuel sales growth when convenient and reliable retail natural gas fueling is available.