In the effort to develop natural gas as a vehicle fuel, various companies are putting forth competing technologies.
For now, at least, most players are working together for what they see as the greater good.
Chief among the friendly competition is the option on how to refill a compressed natural gas vehicle.
Retailers such as OnCue Express and Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores have invested millions of dollars to add CNG pumps to some of their gas stations throughout Oklahoma and the region.
They have plans for many more.
At the same time, companies like Whirlpool Corp. and Italy-based MTM are developing home refueling stations that can be installed in garages and at businesses.
The success of one option could drive away precious business from the other option.
Missing out on business is especially critical now because there are so few customers. But it may be precisely because the market is so small that everyone is so intent on playing nice.
“I love it,” Matt Feighner, regional vice president for Clean Energy Fuels Corp., said this week of home fueling stations.
“Let's go after all of that. I'd have one in my house if the price were cheep enough. We're going to have everyone in this line of business getting into this fuel,” Feighner said.
Feighner spoke at the 2013 Energy Policy and Future of Passenger Transportation Conference sponsored by Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business.
Kavita Khatri, global innovation new business lead at Whirlpool Corp., expressed a similar sentiment.
“There is room in the market for both home refueling and filling stations,” Khatri said. “There are many applications where each makes the most sense.”
Of the more than 240 million vehicles are on the roads throughout the country, only 120,000 — or 0.05 percent — run on CNG.
Of the country's 122,000 gas stations, only 1,207 offer CNG. Only 578 of those are open to the public.
Refueling is seen as a major obstacle, especially outside of Oklahoma, California and New York, home to many of the existing stations offering CNG.
The option that develops first could gain significant market share, but only if the CNG industry takes hold.
If not, the first movers could find themselves on the hook for investments that never develop.