Published June 28, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
As natural gas prices continue to decline, and manufacturers make further inroads into developing engines to use it, Westport Innovations Inc. said yesterday it has signed a second agreement with General Motors for advanced engineering development for light-duty vehicles.
The Vancouver, B.C. based company describes itself as “the global leader in natural gas engines,” and says it and GM will collaborate on further natural gas engine controls, emissions and performance strategies.
“The expansion of our advanced natural gas technology collaboration with GM provides the potential for greater fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for the industry and the consumer,” said Ian Scott, president of Westport Light Duty. “Our continued growth in light-duty is an important part of Westport’s overall commitment to innovative natural gas transportation solutions.”
The goal is one more aspect of a multi-pronged approach to curbing CO2 emissions and increasing fuel economy in light of looming mandates.
While companies have irons in the fire for every other technology including hybrid, all-electric, diesel and hydrogen fuel cells, natural gas is an available resource and the ongoing pitch is on in its favor.
“We have an abundant, inexpensive, and domestic resource in the United States, and there is great potential for natural gas vehicles to realize better efficiency, environmental benefits, and cost savings,” said John Lapetz, vice president of Westport LD and Managing Director North American Vehicle Programs.
Westport's first natural gas co-development agreement with GM took place last July. Just in this month Westport also announced it had opened a center in Kentucky in collaboration with Ford, and had signed a deal with Caterpillar to utilize its High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology. In May it also signed a deal with Volvo trucks among other strategic alliances it has been making.
No doubt we'll see more such natural gas collaborative agreements from Westport and others in the technological race generally intended to lead toward cleaner air and less dependence on petroleum.