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Green Roadster for Porsche Aficionados

Let's face it, natural gas vehicles may be very environmentally-friendly, but aren't that exciting to own and drive. This ho-hum image definitely doesn't fit the PGO Cévennes Turbo-CNG roadster. The car was developed BRA GmbH, PGO Automobiles and gasmobil.

The PGO Cevennes Turbo-CNG is a very faithful replica of a Porsche 356 roadster, last offered in 1965 and one the all time great Porsche models. It includes a very authentic looking interior and instrument panel. It uses a reinforced fiberglass body on a steel frame.

Like the original, the PGO is powered by a four-cylinder located in the rear. However, this engine runs on either natural gas or biogas, not gasoline since it not a bi-fuel vehicle. The Turbo-CNG engine was optimized for natural gas, thus the 11.0:1 compression ratio.

The 1.6-liter four cylinder engine is turbocharged to produce 150 hp at 5,600 rpm, with maximum torque of 155 lb-ft at 2,300 rpm. The Turbo-CNG has a top speed of 130 mph, and can accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Unlike the original, the PGO version has a 6-speed manual transmission and four-wheel disc brakes.

According to company, it gets the gasoline equivalent of 56 mph in combined city and highway driving. Carbon dioxide emissions are approximately 118 g/km when operating on natural gas. If only biogas is used, the car can be run CO2-neutral, that is the CO2 exhaust emissions are balanced by the CO2 used in growing the material used as the feedstock for producing the biogas.

The natural gas storage tanks hold 22 kilograms, sufficient for a range of 280 miles. Refilling with natural gas in Europe is relatively easy with 770 NG stations in Germany, 600 in Italy, 100 in Switzerland and 90 in Austria. Italy alone has over 430,000 vehicles on the road. Biogas is growing in popularity, and availability, in Europe through programs like Biogasmax that is creating a network of biogas-related demonstrations starting in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Lille, Rome and Berne. This includes trucks, buses, train cars and Volvos in Sweden.

BRA GmbH is accepting advance orders for the Turbo-CNG with an expected price of around $70,000. This is about $10,000 more than a well equipped 2008 Porsche Boxster.