A fundamental aspect of Fiat Group’s vehicle emission reduction strategy centers on the use of alternative fuels.
From natural gas to biofuels, the objective is to offer technologies that are aligned with the fuels available in the various markets, and capable of resulting in an immediate reduction in emission levels.
Fiat Group believes that natural gas is currently the best existing solution for reducing urban pollution levels and CO2 emissions.
It is the cleanest and most economical fuel available, and the only currently viable alternative to gasoline and diesel. Specifically, natural gas:
- produces the lowest levels of harmful emissions, from particulate matter (reduced to essentially zero) to the most reactive hydrocarbons that result in the creation of other pollutants
- generates 23% less CO2 emissions compared with gasoline
- has the potential to become a renewable fuel source in the form of biomethane.
Fiat Group has been Europe’s leading producer of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) natural gas vehicles for more than 15 years. It offers the largest eco-friendly bi-fuel (natural gas/gasoline) range, satisfying the needs of a wide variety of private and commercial consumers. With the 2013 launch of the natural gas versions of the Fiat 500L and 500L Living and of the Lancia Ypsilon, the available range now features 12 models of passenger cars and commercial vehicles(Fiat Natural Power Panda, 500L, 500L Living, Punto, Qubo, Doblò, Panda Van, Punto Van, Fiorino, Doblò Cargo, Ducato, and Lancia Ypsilon Ecochic Methane). Safety and comfort remain uncompromised, as the natural gas tanks are designed to be fully integrated into the vehicle structure.
In 2013, Fiat Group’s European leadership was reconfirmed, with a share of more than 67%, corresponding to more than 62,000 natural gas vehicles registered (+15% compared with 2012), thus totaling almost 600,000 cars and commercial vehicles sold since 1997.
In Italy, despite a market demand contraction of 7%, the demand for natural gas cars increased by more than 26%. Fiat and Lancia natural gas cars sold in Italy in 2013 represented 16.5% of total sales and 17% of total brand revenues.
Newly registered natural gas cars by CO2 emission levels
Fiat and Lancia in Europe
Building on our long experience in Europe in the development of natural gas-powered vehicles, in 2013 the Group remained the only automaker in the United States to offer a factory-built natural gas pickup, the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG. The Group is currently developing the next generation of fuel tanks to power compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles by using the human body as inspiration. Patent-pending technology mimics human lungs to benefit CNG-tank capacity and formability. This unique technology development is supported in part by a grant from the Michigan (US) Economic Development Council’s Technology Innovation Challenge.
The innovative 0.9-liter TwinAir Turbo bi-fuel methane-powered engine was named Best Green Engine of the Year 2013, one of the 12 categories of the prestigious International Engine of the Year Awards. Now in its 15th year, the international contest is one of the most significant events on the automotive calendar, with participations from all the major car manufacturers worldwide. The two-cylinder engine earned the title based on the combination of the environmental benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) with fun at the wheel. It achieves maximum power of 80 hp at 5,500 rpm and maximum torque of 140 Nm at 2,500 rpm. The methane-powered Panda TwinAir Turbo produces 86 g/km of CO2, one of the lowest levels of any vehicle on the market.
In addition, the international jury of Autobest, a leading European automotive magazine, awarded Fiat’s “methane program”(1) the ʻEcobest 2013′ title for being the simplest and most cost-effective solution with the lowest environmental impact among fuels currently available.
(1)The Fiat program on natural gas vehicles.
Biomethane: a renewable fuel source
Natural gas vehicles can operate on biomethane, a biofuel produced from biomass (without affecting food resources) which is chemically similar to natural gas. From a well-to-wheel perspective, biomethane-powered vehicles produce roughly the same CO2 emissions as an electric vehicle powered by a renewable fuel. For this reason, biomethane can help countries like Italy meet their renewable energy commitments. The Group is working on research projects fostering the development of a biomethane supply chain.
Fiat Group invests heavily in technologies that optimize the use of available natural resources. This commitment has propelled Fiat Group to leadership in the Brazilian market with its full range of Flexfuel vehicles that run on varying blends of gasoline and bioethanol. Another example of Fiat Group’s technological excellence in this area is the TetraFuel engine (patented by Magneti Marelli), the first in the world capable of running on four different fuels: bioethanol, Brazilian gasoline (refined crude oil and 22% anhydrous ethanol), gasoline and natural gas.
In 2013, more than 744,100 Fiat Flexfuel and TetraFuel vehicles were sold, representing approximately 97.5% of total sales. This result was largely achievable because of the extensive bioethanol distribution network in Brazil, supported by long-standing government policies and readily available raw materials.
In addition, all engines sold in Europe are compatible with blends of up to 10% bioethanol with gasoline (E10), and up to 7% biodiesel with diesel (B7). In the United States, Chrysler Group has produced more than 4 million flexible fuel vehicles capable of running on E85, which contains 85% ethanol, or biodiesel blends. In addition, some commercial vehicles are compatible with diesel and biodiesel blends of up to 20% (B20).