EDMOND — CNG Interstate is making itself at home in Oklahoma.
It has been less than a year since the Utah-born company — which converts vehicles to run on compressed natural gas — opened its shop at 100 NW 142 in Edmond, but CNG Interstate already has seen business increase by nearly 500 percent.
President Craig Wright said the cost of converting varies with available tax credits, but the switch can pay for itself quickly.
“It's really quite simple, natural gas is cheaper to burn than gasoline,” Wright said. “We have an abundant supply here at home, and we should harness that resource to more efficiently power the vehicles on Oklahoma's roads.”
CNG Interstate offers a bi-fuel system that allows almost any vehicle to burn natural gas or gasoline with the push of a button.
The company is focusing on converting pickups at this point.
Wright said he hopes to streamline the conversion process with an assembly line approach to help lower costs and boost the company's business. Once that is done, he said the company would turn its attention to sport utility vehicles and cars.
Wright said he expects CNG Interstate's continued growth to mean additional expansion within Oklahoma.
He hopes to expand into Tulsa by this fall. He also is eyeing a possible expansion into south Oklahoma City or Norman in 2013.
Wright said 97 percent of the almost 200 vehicles CNG Interstate converted in the last six months have come from customer referrals.
Customer is happy
Edmond resident David Bryan took his Toyota pickup to the company after studying the costs and benefits of CNG conversion.
“From installation to follow-up service, my experience with CNG Interstate has been amazing,” Bryan said. “The system performs exactly as described and the work has been nothing but professional.”
He said he is planning to get another vehicle converted soon.
“I never worry about fuel prices now,” Bryan said. “My only regret is that I waited so long to do it.”
Wright says CNG vehicles are important for America's energy future.
“I'm excited to be working in a business that promotes the use of domestic natural gas,” Wright said. “Oklahoma is at the very center of the natural gas industry, and I see big things in the future for our company and our state.”
Central Oklahoma Clean Cities Coordinator Yvonne Anderson said she is a proponent of natural gas as a vehicle fuel because it is better for the environment, cheaper than gasoline or diesel and reduces use of foreign oil.
Anderson said CNG is an ideal option for vehicle fleets, but she warned individuals who are mulling the conversion to make sure kits are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Natural gas vehicle conversions are not the province of shade-tree mechanics and DIY (do-it-yourself) kits ordered from the Internet,” she said.
Wright said CNG Interstate has technicians trained to install and service the conversion kits safely.
He said the company's system meets or exceeds EPA standards.