Volkswagen has launched the eco up! -- the natural gas car that offers the highest fuel economy in the global market. Natural gas and biomethane have excellent potential for lowering the CO2 emissions level. There’s no doubt that the new eco up! is presently the most fuel-efficient natural gas passenger car in the world.
For every 100 km, the four-seat Volkswagen uses up only 2.9 kg of natural gas (CNG = Compressed Natural Gas) and emits 79 g/km of CO2. The fuel efficiency leads to very low fuel costs. In Germany, the eco up! that is offered either as a two-door or four-door claims a cost of slightly more than 3 euros for 100 km. But in Italy, it costs less than 3 euros. Italy has the biggest market for natural gas cars in Europe.
There is currently no other all-round car that could be driven so economically. But what makes natural gas cars such as the eco up! very advantageous is that they’re not limited to natural gas. Alternative fuels like renewable biomethane can also be used to power these cars. Biomethane is built from plant by-products and does not compete with food crops.
In addition, it is CO2-neutral since the car emits the same level of carbon dioxide in combustion as it absorbs while the plants were growing. Furthermore, new methods for generating biomethane (like getting it from straw) will further reduce dependency on classic natural gas.
The German Biomass Research Centre in Leipzig conducted a study and found that in Germany alone, as much as 13 million metric tonnes of straw are unused annually. In theory, this biomass could power four million natural gas vehicles. The first facility for biomethane production from straw started operating in Germany in February 2012.