With gasoline approaching, and in some areas surpassing $4 a gallon, Ford is reporting high interest in its natural gas-powered vehicles. The company currently offers its E-Series fullsize vans, Super Duty trucks, and Transit Connect compact vans with a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) option.

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of lower carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, the biggest driver of the adoption of natural gas is, not surprisingly, price. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, between September 2005 and January, the price per gallon equivalent of CNG peaked at $2.34 in the summer of 2008.

The national average was $1.93 in January 2011, the same as it was in October 2010. That's roughly half the price that unleaded is commanding at current prices. Federal subsidies are also playing a role in increased interest, with the federal Cities Petroleum Reductions Program providing $300 million in funding to regional projects across the United States.

Government incentives are also encouraging the expansion of CNG filling stations nationwide, which makes CNG-powered vehicles a more viable alternative to fleets and individual drivers alike.

Source: Ford