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U.S. States With the Most Natural Gas Vehicles

natural gas vehicles

In a recent study, we analyzed and wrote up the U.S. states with the most propane vehicles. Here, in this study, we’ve analyzed data sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy to identify the states with the most natural gas vehicles.

As the global push towards sustainable energy gathers momentum, natural gas vehicles (NGVs) have come into the spotlight as a cleaner alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel-powered transportation. In the United States, a growing number of states are embracing NGVs, driven by the dual benefits of reducing environmental impact and leveraging domestic energy resources.

We leveraged the latest insights from authoritative sources to unveil the states leading in the adoption of natural gas vehicles. From infrastructure developments to policy incentives, we explore the factors propelling these regions to the forefront of the NGV movement, offering a glimpse into the future of transportation fueled by one of the cleanest fossil fuels available.

How natural gas vehicles work

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) operate using compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel, offering a cleaner alternative to conventional gasoline or diesel engines. The fundamental operation of NGVs closely mirrors that of traditional internal combustion engines, but with a key difference: They are designed or modified to run on natural gas. In the case of CNG-powered vehicles, natural gas is stored in high-pressure tanks at pressures up to 3,600 psi.

When the vehicle is operated, the gas is released from these tanks, passing through a regulator that reduces its pressure to a level that the engine can use. It then flows into the combustion chamber, where it mixes with air. Upon ignition, the fuel-air mixture combusts, driving the pistons and producing power in a manner similar to that of gasoline engines. LNG vehicles operate on a similar principle but utilize natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state at very low temperatures, which is then vaporized and fed into the engine. NGVs are praised for emitting fewer pollutants than their gasoline or diesel counterparts, contributing to improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

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States with the most natural gas vehicles

In order to rank the states with the most natural gas vehicles, we didn’t simply sort by quantity. We calculated the percentage of natural gas vehicles out of total registered vehicles in the state. By doing it this way, a large state like California doesn’t rank No. 1 simply because it has, in absolute terms, the largest number of NGVs. Ranking in percentage terms conveys the density of these vehicles among all cars and trucks in the state.

1. Utah

Utah ranked as the No. 1 states with the most propane vehicles, and here, it also ranks No. 1 with the most NGVs. Utah the highest rate of natural gas vehicles at more than 0.07%. That’s equivalent to 2,300 NGVs out of a total of 2,997,500 registered vehicles. Having 2,300 natural gas vehicles for a state with such a small population is extremely high. By contrast, in the far more populated state of Florida, only 400 registered vehicles are NGVs out of more than 18 million total vehicles. Utah Department of Environmental Quality offers an Alternative Fuel Grant Program, including a grant of up to $2,500 per conversion to natural gas or other alternative fuels.

2. Oklahoma

Oklahoma has 2,000 natural gas vehicles to Utah’s 2,300, thus having fewer NGVs in absolute terms and in per capita terms. Out of 4,249,900 total registered vehicles, Oklahoma’s 2,000 NGVs represent 0.047% of all vehicles. The state of Oklahoma offers a couple of incentives for natural gas vehicles, such as its AAFV Tax Credit and Alternative Fueling Infrastructure Tax Credit. The most popular alternative fuel in Oklahoma is ethanol/flex fuel, with 380,800 cars, or more than 8.9% of all vehicles.

3. District of Columbia

Although not a state, the District of Columbia ranks No. 3 for the most natural gas vehicles. Home to only 319,400 registered vehicles, D.C. boasts approximately 100 NGVs. That means over 0.03% of all cars in D.C. are natural gas vehicles. D.C. offers a couple of incentives for NGVs, including Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Conversion and Infrastructure Tax Credit and Alternative Fuel Vehicle Exemption from Driving Restrictions. The most popular alternative fuel vehicle are hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which account for roughly 5.4% of all cars in D.C.

4. California

In terms of absolute numbers, California has the most natural gas vehicles, at 10,300. But in per capita terms, 10,300 out of 36,119,800 total registered vehicles equals 0.0285%. When it comes to alternative fuels, California has some interesting statistics. It has the highest rate of electric vehicles, possessing 903,600 of them out of 36,119,800, equal to 2.5%. More intriguing is that California is the only state to have any hydrogen fuel cell cars: 14,900 vehicles are hydrogen-powered, equal to 0.041% of all registered vehicles.

5. Missouri

Missouri has a large number of NGVs, being home to 1,200 natural gas vehicles out of 5,422,400 vehicles total, equal to 0.0221% of all cars. In absolute terms, Missouri also ranks fifth for the most NGVs, behind Texas’s 1,400 and ahead of Ohio’s 700. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is a major operator of NGVs, one of the largest in the country. It has rolled out a plan to completely phase out its diesel buses, to be replaced by compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

6. Arizona

Arizona comes at No. 6 state with the most natural gas vehicles. Arizona has 6,490,500 registered vehicles and 600 of them are NGVs; that’s equal to a rate of 0.009%. Arizona also has a number of natural gas vehicle incentives, such as Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFC) Parking Incentive, Alternative Fuel and AFV Use Tax Exemption, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane Exemption, and Reduced Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) License Tax. CNG Services of Arizona is a major licensed natural gas vehicle fueling equipment contractor in the state as is Southwest Gas.

7. Nevada

Nevada comes in as the No. 7 state with the most natural gas vehicles. Like several other states, there are approximately 200 registered NGVs out of a total of 2,520,700 vehicles, equivalent to 0.0079% of all cars and trucks running on CNG. Nevada has a couple incentives, the main one being its Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Emissions Inspection Exemption. As in No. 6 Arizona, Southwest Gas is a major supplier of CNG for vehicles in Nevada. Las Vegas, notably, has become one of the leading cities in terms of CNG vehicle fueling states.

8. Kansas

Kansas is another state with approximately 100 natural gas vehicles. But out of only 2,604,600 registered vehicles in all, this represents 0.0077% of vehicles being fueled by compressed natural gas. When it comes to alternative fuels, normally popular ones like electric vehicles are not that prevalent in Kansas. However, ethanol/flex fuel vehicles are popular, accounting for over 9.9% of all vehicles, or 260,100 out of 2,604,600 registered vehicles. Kansas Gas Service is a major supplier of CNG in the state of Kansas. Like many other states, Kansas has alternative fuel incentives, including an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Tax Credit.

9. Kentucky

Kentucky comes in at No. 9. In absolute terms, Kentucky has slightly more NGVs than Kansas, with 300 versus the latter’s 200. But Kentucky has more total registered vehicles, at 3,974,600 versus Kansas’s 2,604,600. Thus, Kentucky’s compressed natural gas vehicles account for 0.0075% of all vehicles in the state. Kentuckiana Cleanfuel, headquartered in Louisville, is a major CNG fueling system provider in the state. Many cities in Kentucky have adopted compressed natural gas fleets, for services like waste management and utilities.

10. Arkansas

Arkansas rounds out our list of the top 10 states with the NGVs. With 200 natural gas vehicles, approximately 0.0074% of the 2,685,400 registered vehicles in Arkansas are powered by CNG. Arkansas also has a couple of incentives for clean energy vehicles like CNGs, including grant programs offered by the Office of Air Quality (OAQ).

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All states with natural gas vehicles

Below is a list of states that possess any number of NGVs. There are 10 states that have no registered NGVs. The 40 states — and D.C. — that do have natural gas vehicles are arranged in order of their percentage share.

StateNGVsNGVs (%)Total Vehicles
District of Columbia1000.0313%319,400
New Hampshire1000.0073%1,373,700
West Virginia1000.0067%1,488,900
New Mexico1000.0052%1,929,400
New Jersey3000.0042%7,148,700
New York4000.0035%11,306,300
North Carolina3000.0033%8,970,300
South Carolina1000.0020%4,944,700
Rhode Island00.0000%872,000
South Dakota00.0000%945,100
North Dakota00.0000%785,500

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