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GM and Westport to look at natural gas engines

Westport Innovations Inc. and GM have signed an agreement to develop advanced natural gas engine technology


June 28, 2011
by Fleet Management staff

VANCOUVER: Westport Innovations Inc. and GM have signed an agreement to develop advanced natural gas engine technology. Both GM and Westport will bring their extensive expertise to develop natural gas engine controls, emissions and performance strategies.

“We are excited to work with GM and invest in advanced natural gas technology for the automotive market,” said Ian Scott, president of Westport’s Light-Duty Division. “This technology offers the promises of a cleaner, lower cost fuel and reduced carbon footprint, while advancing the use of domestic energy. This agreement demonstrates Westport’s success as an advanced technology partner to global automotive manufacturers. Westport’s recent announcement regarding the planned acquisition of Emer S.p.A., of Italy, is an integral part of our strategy to provide partners, such as GM, with the most advanced integrated solutions.”

Westport announced the planned opening of a new technical centre in Michigan. Westport’s personnel currently includes approximately 15 people in Farmington Hills, MI, and Westport plans to add more people and invest in facilities as demand grows for natural gas-powered, alternative-fuel vehicles.

“Natural gas is 97 percent North American sourced and much less expensive than gasoline or diesel fuels,” according to John Lapetz, Westport’sLight-Duty Division Managing Director, North American Vehicle Programs. “It also produces about 15 to  20 percent less CO2 than those fuels.”

To support OEM programs, Westport plans to add research and development facilities to develop technologies that enable vehicles to run on natural gas for business and government fleets, and personal use. Utilization of domestic energy, the creation of jobs and protection of the environment, are all part of Westport’s business objectives.

“Hybridization, lower-displacement with turbo charging, direct injection and other fuel-saving technologies now being applied to gasoline and diesel engines, can also be applied to natural gas fueled engines for even greater improvements in efficiency and fuel cost savings,” Lapetz said.