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© Seat / The Arona had its world premiere at the IAA. For now it's only going to be available with petrol and Diesel engines, but a CNG version will join the lineup in 2018 poprzednie następne
Sector: CNG

CNG cars at IAA 2017 in Frankfurt

CNG cars at IAA 2017 in Frankfurt © IAA

Another automotive vanity fair, the 2017 edition of the IAA in Frankfurt, Germany, is a thing of the past. Let's have a look at what was presented there on the compressed methane front. Anything new there or just the things we already knew?
Audi A5 Sportback g-tron X-ray view© AudiThe A5 Sportback g-tron is one of the latest additions to Audi's range of CNG-powered cars

As expected, Audi has quite a lineup on display. The g-tron family keeps expanding in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal as the brand is seeking ways to improve its image and offer a cleaner, more environmentally friendly alternative. As Audi declares, the CNG-powered g-tron models (currently A3 Sportback, A4 Avant and A5 Sportback) spew out on average 18% less CO2 than petrol-powered equivalents and as much as 90% less NOX than diesel counterparts. The A4 and A5 are the latest addition to the g-tron range and feature the same 170 PS 2-litre TFSI engine, while the A3 is motivated by a 1,4-litre unit, good for 110 PS.

The A4 and A5 g-trons emit 102 g/km of CO2 in CNG mode and 126 g/km on petrol. Their engines, based on 2-litre TFSI petrol units, have been modified to run on gaseous fuel in many ways. In all, 29 new or re-engineered components have been used, including new pistons and valves or the – absent from the petrol variant – pressure regulator, reducing CNG pressure from 200 bar (at which fuel is stored in the tanks) to 5-10 bar (at which methane is injected into combustion chambers). Also, petrol injectors, which are deactivated when the engine runs on CNG, are mounted in stainless steel casings to disperse excess heat.

Opel Astra CNG© OpelFrankfurt was the place where the Astra CNG celebrated its world premiere. It was presented in the form of the Sports Tourer estate

Opel premiered the new CNG-powered Astra, reintroduced after three generations of absence. The compact will join the Zafira Tourer and the Combo (both soon to be phased out) in the brand's methane portfolio and will be offered in two body styles: as 5-door hatchback and Sports Tourer estate. The order books opened directly after the IAA, with prices starting from 23000 euros for the hatchback variant. The engine is a 1,4-litre unit offering 110 PS of power and 200 Nm of torque. According to Opel, the car does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10,9 s and tops out at 200 km/h. Its two CNG tanks hold 19 kg of fuel and provide 450 km of range without refueling. In petrol mode, range is said to be 260 km, although we'd call the figure wishful thinking, since the tank is reduced to 13,7 l of capacity. Petrol is considered emergency-only fuel and the Astra is certified as a monovalent (single-fuel) methane vehicle.

Seat Ibiza TGI© SeatThe Ibiza TGI is the first car to feature the new 1,0 TGI three-pot methane engine

The Volkswagen Group, aside from Audi, has a number of CNG-powered models, too, among them Skodas, Volkswagens and Seats. The larger ones, like Golf, Octavia and Leon, feature the 1,4-litre, 110 PS units known from the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron, while the smaller models are powered by the newly introduced 1,0 TGI engines, generating 90 PS from their 3 cylinders. Seat brought the latest methane-powered Ibiza (the first in the model's history) and Volkswagen debuted its close sibling, the Polo TGI. Apart from Leon and Ibiza, Seat already offers a CNG variant of the Mii and announced expansion of the range in 2018 with the newly presented small crossover Arona.

While the number of CNG cars on display in Frankfurt may seem respectable, keep in mind they all came from two manufacturers – the Volkswagen Group (through four different brands) and Opel. Volvo's presence could have changed a little, but not much. And it seems Mercedes has given up on CNG, since there is no word of a new E class NGD coming anytime soon. But perhaps most sadly, poor turnout on the show floor reflects poor sales – between January and August 2017, only 1700 new methane-powered cars were sold in Germany.


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Piotr Złoty
source: Die Welt, IAA, VDA, Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Opel 2012-2018 All rights reserved. By using this site you acknowledge that you accept its Terms and Conditions