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Why I’m saying goodbye to my ‘green’ vehicle

Published November 5, 2012
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It’s not easy being green. For the last two years, I drove a natural-gas vehicle – which I just sold.

I loved the technology. It’s clean-burning, cuts smog, and drives just like a gasoline vehicle. At 69-cents per gasoline litre equivalent, nat-gas also saved me a ton of money. The problem was that the refuelling infrastructure evaporated beneath my feet.

When I bought the vehicle in 2010, there were 26 public nat-gas stations in Ontario. According to Enbridge’s online map, that number has now fallen to just eight.

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This became an issue for me when my work no longer took me past a west-end Toronto refuelling location on a regular basis. That meant getting nat-gas now involved an out-of-the-way 17 km trek from my home, or 34 km both ways, just to fill up.

Home nat-gas refuelling machines can be rented for $90/month, but my usage didn’t justify that expense.

My 2001 Ford F150 was factory nat-gas only, not dual fuel, so it couldn’t run on gasoline.

What’s the next vehicle in my future?

Well, I basically sold the truck for what I paid two years ago, to someone who lives near a fill station. Repairs and added equipment (hydraulic liftgate) costs were nullified by the hefty fuel savings, so I pretty much broke even overall – which counts as a “win” in my book.

I’m hoping to do as well with my next vehicle. Hybrids and electrics don’t suit my needs, so I’m considering a converted dual-fuel automobile that runs on gasoline or propane – which sells for 53.9 cents per gasoline litre equivalent.

At least if availability of that alternative fuel disappears, I’ll still be able to run on gasoline – until I sell it and find another “green machine” that is.

Rustproofing cost: Following last week’s column, a reader asks what I pay for rustproofing. The location mentioned charges $130 (most vehicles) for the no-drip treatment. But I actually didn’t have it done this year because, as noted above, I don’t own a vehicle at present.

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