Las Vegas is a city that’s renowned for its bright lights and decadent style.  That’s why it’s especially encouraging to see an increasing number of businesses taking their environmental impact so seriously.

One example is MGM Resorts International.  We’ve already seen how their commitment to solar power helped to reduce their emissions and lower their business electricity costs, but a recent deal with alternative fuel specialists World CNG has led to the roll-out of a new way to transport guests.

This transport mode is both luxurious and eco-friendly: a compressed natural gas stretch limousine.

The sustainable stretch

At a length of 22 feet, it looks like the kind of giant car you’d normally call a gas-guzzler.  But beyond the custom leather interiors, state-of-the-art systems and hand-selected features lies a vehicle that’s testament to MGM Resorts’ ideas about ‘environmental stewardship’.

Running on compressed natural gas – that’s methane stored at high pressure – the Cadillac XTS produces just one-ninth of the emissions of its predecessor, the petrol-powered Lincoln Town Car.

And MGM Resorts currently has a fleet of 31 of these high-end, low-emission cars servicing guests at a number of their resorts.

‘We looked at biodiesel, ethanol, electric vehicles, hydrogen and LPG [Liquid Petroleum Gas],’ said Chris Magee, MGM Resorts’ Executive Director of Corporate Sustainability.  ‘CNG was the winner for us.’

You can see Chris taking a tour in the new Cadillac and talking more about the project in the video below:

The limousines run on 3.6-litre direct injection engines developed by World CNG, and can be refuelled at  MGM Resorts properties and across the Strip.  But is it something that’s likely to take off?

CNG on the UK’s roads

Outside of MGM Resorts, the US hasn’t seen much uptake of CNG vehicles.  While Honda has been selling natural gas versions of its Civic for 15 years, they only sell a few thousand units per year – and most of those are to fleet operators with their own private fuelling stations.

In the UK, natural gas vehicles (NGVs) seem even scarcer.  According to a worldwide report, the UK has ‘more than 600’ NGVs on the road.  And while most of these are heavy-goods vehicles – which account for over 20% of greenhouse gases emitted on our roads – that’s a few hundred out of a total of more than half a million. By comparison, more than 25% of Iran’s vehicles are NGVs, and in Pakistan, NGVs account for a huge 80% of road vehicles.

There is some interest here, however.

In Reading, one bus provider uses 34 CNG-powered buses, accounting for 20% of its fleet – one of which recently broke the land speed record for a street-legal bus.

And logistics company DHL recently launched a new gas-powered concept vehicle, designed to cleanly and safely navigate deliveries in urban areas.

But with electric vehicles recently stealing much of the eco-friendly spotlight, it’s not yet clear whether natural gas will become a prominent feature in our environmentally-conscious future.

What do you think is the solution to lowering emissions on the roads? Let us know on LinkedIn and Google+.

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