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    Global NGV fleet reaches 29.5mn in 2020: IGU

Summary

Asia leads the way in the use of natural gas-fuelled vehicle transport.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Global NGV fleet reaches 29.5mn in 2020: IGU

The number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on the road reached 29.5mn last year, following steady growth since the late 1990s, the International Gas Union (IGU) estimates in its World LNG Report 2021.

The Asia and Asia Pacific region accounts for by far the largest share of the world's fleet, with 21.4mn NGVs in operation, representing 73% of the global fleet. The number of NGVs there has seen exponential growth over the past two decades, more than doubling between 2000 and 2010 and increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12% between 2010 and 2020.

Latin America has 5.5mn and Europe 2.1mn NGVs, giving them market shares of 19% and 7% respectively. The world's three biggest markets for NGVs – China, Iran and India – account for over half of the global fleet.

In the Asia and Asia Pacific region, rising demand for gas-fuelled vehicle transport has been driven by environmental concerns over emissions and air pollution in cities. But government policies have also been key in supporting NGV deployment across numerous markets, the IGU states. China, with 6mn NGVs, has been introducing nation and municipal-wide clean vehicle programmes since 1999, for example. Until 2015, China's National Development and Reform Commission also regulated the price of gas to make it more competitive versus more conventional fuels.

Latin America until 2000 accounted for the majority of the global NGV fleet. Despite having been overtaken by Asia, Latin America nevertheless quadrupled the number of NGVs on the road between 2000 and 2010 to over 4mn. The growth rate is now slower at 4%/year on average since 2010, but Argentina still boasts one of the highest NGV market penetrations worldwide, according to the IGU.

In Europe, the main user of NGVs is Italy, which first started introducing the vehicles as early as the 1970s to improve its energy security. Today it accounts for nearly 55% of the European fleet, after increasing its number by at least 50% between 2009 and 2019 to over 1mn units.

"Often presented as a "chicken and egg" conundrum, the development of refuelling infrastructure is highly correlated with the deployment of natural gas vehicles and fuel supply," the IGU states. "In several key NGV markets, the availability of well-connected refuelling infrastructure has been essential to driving sustained utilisation of natural gas as an alternative automotive fuel."

There were some 31,700 filling stations offering compressed natural gas and LNG at the end of 2020.